Shirley & Lee

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Shirley & Lee (black and white photo)

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They had one trait in common among their recordings; this New Orleans-based duo almost never sang in harmony, let alone together at all. Their contrasting male-female duet style was later influential on early ska and reggae productions from Jamaica. Shirley & Lee recorded extensively for Eddie Messner and Leo Messner's L.A.-based Aladdin label. The Messners -- along with former NBC radio exec. Lew Chudd's Imperial Records and Art Rupe's Specialty -- seemed to have a knack for signing talent straight out of the Crescent City.

Shirley & Lee's debut single, "I'm Gone," was written and produced by Dave Bartholomew, Imperial's writer/arranger/producer/A&R man and a major contributor to New Orleans-style R&B. (It was Bartholomew's production work with Fats Domino which utilized that talents of a great house band -- pianist Allen Toussaint, bassist Frank Fields, drummer Earl Palmer, and saxophonists Lee Allen, Red Tyler, and Herb Hardesty -- that elevated nearly everything he worked on to "legendary" status.) With their backing "I'm Gone" went on to become a major R&B hit in the fall of 1952.

Early in their careers, Shirley & Lee became known as "the Sweethearts of the Blues," a nickname given not for their personal relationship, but for their romantic sagas of their songs, whicShirley Goodman and Leonard Lee, born just ten days apart in 1936, scored three massive R&B hits before either one of them were both 20 years old: "Feel So Good," "Let the Good Times Roll," and "I Feel Good" were all written by the talented young couple.

h often bordered on telling a fictional soap-opera storyline about two lovers. Their fans would buy the singles simply to keep up with the continuing story of the two sweethearts. The story continued with the very next single, "Shirley Come Back to Me," a heartbreaker released in early 1953, followed by "Shirley's Back," later that year. This happy theme continued through the happy ending for the next single, "The Proposal" b/w "Two Happy People."

By the end of the year, Aladdin was reveling in success of the story of Shirley & Lee. Of course, the couple in the songs had already been apart and were now back together, so they had to shake things up with the next release, called "Lee Goofed," and followed that with "Confessin'" but by now the audience seemed to be tiring of the soap opera, so Shirley & Lee moved on to new lyrical subject matter.

Messner decided to try something new for the duo in May of 1955, issuing a medium-tempo rocker called "Feel So Good." The song featured full vocal group backup (reportedly by the Spiders) and did well, but it was the bluesy B-side, "You'd Be Thinking of Me," that put the duo back on the R&B hit charts. "Lee's Dream" also charted. In early 1956, Aladdin released the duo's slow blues ballad, "A Little Word," which received good airplay, but sales weren't spectacular. Trying to get back on track, Aladdin finally opted to issue a full-length album, Let the Good Times Roll, in December. It was reissued two years later on Score, Aladdin's budget label.

By the middle of 1957, Shirley & Lee were back on top, this time with the biggest hit in their careers. Goodman and Lee borrowed one of New Orleans' most familiar refrains and built a rocking tune around it called "Let the Good Times Roll." The recording was an instant smash and received substantial airplay, climbing up the charts in the process. It sold well-over one million copies and for more than 40 years has been a staple of oldies play lists. To date, there are over a hundred cover versions of the song, but most still prefer the original.

The pair stayed on Aladdin into 1959 before moving to Warwick, where they ended up re-recording "Let the Good Times Roll." Other tunes followed -- "I Feel Good" and "The Flirt" among them -- but like many acts, Shirley & Lee were never able to recapture the nationwide success of their biggest hit. After a few final singles in 1962-1963, this time for Imperial -- Aladdin and Imperial continued their rivalry and tried to one-up each other until Aladdin was acquired by Imperial outright -- the "Sweethearts of the Blues" decided to call it a day.

In 1974, Shirley Goodman reappeared on the R&B scene, this time paired with studio musicians -- they called themselves Shirley and Company -- for "Shame, Shame, Shame," released on the Vibration label. (The song also featured Jesus Alvarez supplying lead vocals). The disco-fied hit topped the R&B charts at number one that summer and peaked at number 12 on the pop charts. It was written by producer Sylvia Robinson, who had also been part of a successful '50s duo, Mickey & Sylvia, with Mickey Baker. Robinson also penned Goodman's less successful follow-up "Cry, Cry, Cry." They issued one more single on Vibration, then dropped out of sight.

Leonard Lee passed away on October 23, 1976.

Shirley married and changed her name to Shirley Mae Goodman Pixley. She passed away on July 5, 2005.

 -- Bryan Thomas of All Music Guide.

Let the Good Times RollLet the Good Times Roll
I Feel GoodI Feel Good
Rockin' With the ClockRockin' With the Clock

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1956Let The Good Times Roll
1982The Best Of Shirley & Lee
1985Happy Days
1985Respectfully Yours
1990The Legendary Masters Series, Vol. 1
1991Shirley & Lee
1997The Sweethearts Of The Blues (Box Set)
2008Shirley & Lee Rock!

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1956 Let The Good Times Roll

1982 The Best Of Shirley & Lee

1. Let The Good Times Roll
2. Rock All Night
3. Feel So Good
4. I'm Gone
5. Lee's Dream
6. That's What I'll Do
7. Don't You Know I Love You
8. Everybody's Rockin'
9. Why Did I?
10. I Feel Good
11. Baby
12. I'll Thrill You

1985 Happy Days

01. Bewildered
02. Good For Nothing Baby
03. Everybody Needs Somebody
04. Lover's Mistake
05. Your Day Is Coming
06. I'll Never Be Free
07. Shirley, Come Back To Me
08. After Last Night

1985 Respectfully Yours


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1990 The Legendary Masters Series, Vol. 1

01. I'm Gone
02. Sweethearts
03. Baby
04. Why Did I?
05. Confessin'
06. Keep On
07. Comin' Over
08. Takes Money
09. Feel So Good
10. Lee's Dream
11. Deed I Do
12. That's What I'll Do
13. Let The Good Times Roll
14. I Feel Good
15. When I Saw You
16. I Want To Dance
17. Rock All Night
18. Don't You Know I Love You
19. I'll Thrill You
20. Everybody's Rockin'

1991 Shirley & Lee

01. Let The Good Times Roll
02. A Little Word
03. Do You Mean To Hurt Me So
04. All I Want To Do Is Cry
05. You'd Be Thinking Of Me
06. Rock All Night
07. That's What I Wanna Do
08. I'm Gone
09. Sweethearts
10. That's What I'll Do
11. Shirley, Come Back To Me
12. Shirley's Back
13. Don't You Know I Love You
14. Feel So Good
15. Come On And Have Your Fun
16. I'll Thrill You
17. Don't Leave Me Here To Cry
18. Before I Go
19. The Reason Why
20. I Didn't Want You
21. I'll Do It (deed I do)
22. Everybody's Rockin'
23. Rockin' With The Clock
24. Lee's Dream
25. The Flirt
26. Korea
27. Comin' Over
28. When Day Is Done
29. Marry Me
30. True Love Never Dies


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1997 The Sweethearts Of The Blues (Box Set)

Disc 1.
01. Sweethearts
02. I'm Gone
03. The Real Thing
04. Korea
05. Baby
06. Shirley, Come Back To Me
07. Shirley's Back
08. Why Did I?
09. So In Love
10. The Reason Why
11. The Time Has Come
12. I Love You So
13. The Proposal
14. Two Happy People
15. Lee Goofed
16. Every Fool Has His Day
17. Down In My Heart
18. Keep On
19. Confessin'
20. When The Sun Goes Down
21. Trying To Fool Me
22. Rumors Blue
23. Comin' Over
24. Takes Money
25. I Didn't Want You
26. You'd Be Thinking Of Me
27. I'll Thrill You

Disc 2.
01. Feel So Good
02. Lee's Dream
03. I'll Do It (deed I do)
04. Tell Me So
05. That's What I'll Do
06. A Little Word
07. Let The Good Times Roll
08. Do You Mean To Hurt Me So
09. Everything (when I saw you)
10. We Will Be Forever Happy
11. I Feel Good
12. That's What I Wanna Do
13. Now It's Over
14. I Want To Dance
15. Marry Me
16. Before I Go
17. Don't You Know I Love You
18. Rock All Night
19. Rockin' With The Clock
20. The Flirt
21. Love No One But You
22. Live On The Farm
23. Everybody's Rockin'
24. Don't Leave Me Here To Cry
25. Come On And Have Your Fun
26. All I Want To Do Is Cry
27. True Love Never Dies
28. When Day Is Done
29. So Tired

Disc 3.
01. Let The Good Times Roll
02. Like You Used To Do
03. Bewildered
04. Who Are You Fooling
05. Keep Loving Me
06. You Moves Me
07. Let's Live It Up
08. I've Been Loved Before
09. After Last Night
10. I Love The Way You Love
11. I'll Never Be Free
12. Your Love Makes The Difference
13. I Was Lucky
14. Lover's Mistake
15. Everybody Needs Somebody
16. Your Day Is Coming
17. Two Peas In A Pod
18. Good For Nothing Baby
19. Well-a, Well-a
20. Our Kids
21. They've Got To Understand
22. Call Me A Fool
23. Hard To Believe
24. Behind The Make-Up
25. Keep The Magic Working
26. Girl, You're Married Now
27. It's Been So Long

Disc 4.
01. The Joker
02. Together We Stand
03. My Last Letter
04. I'm Old Enough
05. You Wouldn't
06. A Little Thing
07. The Engagement
08. Don't Stop Now
09. Hey Little Boy
10. The Golden Rule
11. Honky Tonk Music
12. Dancing World
13. Thank You
14. Wouldn't Be Here
15. The Brink Of Disaster
16. Paper Doll
17. When I Fall In Love
18. Don't Marry Too Soon
19. Honey Bee
20. When A Girl Meets A Boy
21. Never Let Me Go
22. Surf Heaven
23. Surfer's Hangout
24. Somebody Put A Jukebox In The Study Hall


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2008 Shirley & Lee Rock!

01. Let The Good Times Roll
02. Keep On
03. Comin' Over
04. Two Happy People
05. Feel So Good
06. Takes Money
07. I'll Thrill You
08. That's What I'll Do
09. I'll Do It (deed I do)
10. I Feel Good
11. Do You Mean To Hurt Me So
12. Everything (when I saw you)
13. That's What I Wanna Do
14. I Want To Dance
15. Marry Me
16. Before I Go
17. Don't You Know I Love You
18. Rock All Nite
19. Rockin' With The Clock
20. The Flirt
21. Live On The Farm
22. Everybody's Rockin'
23. Come On And Have Your Fun
24. All I Want To Do Is Cry
25. When Day Is Done
26. Like You Used To Do
27. I'm Old Enough
28. Hey Little Boy
29. Somebody Put A Jukebox In The Study Hall
30. I'm Gone



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