Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Clickettes (including Barbara Jean English)

The Clickettes formed in 1958 at Yorkville Vocational High School in Manhattan. The group had variously names including Click-ettes, Cliquettes and eventually The Clickettes. In the same year they were signed to the Dice label owned by Johnnie Louise Richardson and her mother Zelma Zell Sanders. The original line up was Barbara Jean English (lead singer), Sylvia Hammond (alto), and sisters, Trudy and Charlotte McCartney (both sopranos although Trudy sang baritone too). Periodically for live performances Shirley Bryant-Ford from the Teen Clefs (Dice label mates) joined the Clickettes. She was not an official member of the group but did appear in the publicity shots at the request of Zelma, who had a reputation for hiring and firing at will. The group released five singles with the Dice label but had little real success.

The single Louella and You Broke Our Hearts was released under the name the Avalons. Some sources claim this may have been the Teen Clefs other the Clickettes.

Frequently they were matched with other lead singers and the singles were released under different names. In 1958 The Ding Dongs (Bobby Darin, Barbara Jean English, Charlotte McCartney, Trudy McCartney and Sylvia Hammond) released Now We're One / Early In The Morning.

The Clickettes left the Dice label in 1960 but the record company continued to release singles by the Clickettes even when they were sung by other groups. ‘Tonight And Forever’ was credited to the Clickettes but it was likely sung by the Teen Clefs.

Free from the Dice label the younger McCartney sisters were replaced by Jean Bolden and Barbara Saunders. The sisters had been too young to tour without their parents’ permission and so the girls went back to school. Richard Barrett (The Valentines) meantime took over the group’s management and wrote and produced “Where Is He.” This was a big hit for the all-female group.

To get the girls exposure he conspired to shoe horn them, unbilled at the Apollo between other acts. The Clickettes proved a crowd pleaser. Into the early 60s the group had various line-up changes and continued to record for several labels. Helen Powell (formerly The Impacts) replaced Sylvia in 196l. The group then recorded two singles for Roulette, including “We Need Them,” released in 1962 as Barbara English and the Fashions (Barbara Jean English, Jeanne Bolden, Barbara Saunders and Helen Powell - formerly of The Impacts).

Before the Fashion disbanded in 1963 they released a couple of singles.

Barbara Jean English went solo in 1963, and Helen went on to join the Chantels.

Barbara released several other recordings but as musical tastes changed she dropped out of the music business.

She made a welcome return in the 70s, and then much later teamed up with the Clickettes in the late '90s. Barbara and the surviving members of the group continue to perform on the retro circuit.

Worth a listen
But, Not For Me (1958)
Jive Time Turkey (1958)
Warm, Soft And Love (1959)
Lover's Prayer (1959)
To Be A Part Of You (1960)
Where Is He (1960)
I Just can't help it (1963)
I understand (1963)

Barbara Jean English
Easy Come, Easy Go (1964)
I've Got A Date / Shoo Fly (1965)
All Because I Love Somebody (1965)
Love's Arrangement (1971)
I'm Living A Lie (1972)
So Many Ways To Die (1972)
You're Gonna Need Somebody To Love (1973)
If This Ain't Love (1977)


Al Heitzer said...

I see an ole photo of the Clickettes with five members, rather than the four names mentioned. What gives with that?

ggjohnny said...

The young lady on the far right was Shirley (?, no one seems to remember her last name) who was a member of fellow Dice labelmates The Teen Clefs. She occasionally filled in at live performances when one of the girls couldn't make it, so Zell Sanders, owner of Dice/J&S wanted her in the Clickettes' only pubicity photo. Shirley was not an official member of the group.

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ggjohnny said...

Thank you for your compliment. Since those facts were written, much has come to light about The Clickettes material. The Avalons who sang "Louella" were the Teen Clefs, not The Clickettes as had been previously reported (by me). On the Avalons cut, the group sang behind the young brother of lead singer Shirley Bryant. It is she who is in the Clickettes picture, far right, because she sometimes subbed for one of the McCartney sisters, so Zell wanted her in the pictures. The material found in the Guyden vaults is NOT The Clickettes, although it is credited to them. Barbara Jean English never exited the music business. When not recording, she sang demos for songwriters, had a cabaret act for many years and recorded well into the 90s. After The Clickettes re-formed for a while, Barbara wrote some new material for the group, recording for Lawrence Berry's BJM label in 2005. The line-up at that time was Barbara Jean, Sylvia Hammond Akridge, Trudy McCartney Cunningham and Carlene McCartney Sabb. Unfortunately, after Carlene's passing, the group stopped performing. Hopefully, they will pick it up again soon!