Sunday, March 11, 2007



What kind of lady is Dee Dee Sharp? Well obviously she‘s talented but she’s also educated, socially aware, charitable & passionate. On top of all that, she’s one hell of a singer. Born Dione LaRue in Philadelphia in 1945, she began singing in her grandfather’s church. She learnt to play the piano and to read music at an early age. This combination of skills helped secure her first recording studio work whilst still only 13 years old. Four years on and she was ready to take on lead singer duties herself. Signed to a contract with Cameo Parkway, she initially duetted with Chubby Checker on “Slow Twisting”. This Parkway label 45 gave her a first chart entry when on 24th March 1962 this entered the national R & B Top 100. The cut would stay on the charts for 3 months and rise to make the top 3 on both the US R & B and pop charts. In fact, the duet would have gone even higher had it not been for a song titled “Mashed Potato Time” from Dee Dee herself. This solo outing (a Cameo label release) had entered the charts just 7 days after “Slow Twisting”, which it overtook on its climb to reach the No.1 spot in late April.

Further hits followed in quick succession; “Gravy, For My Mashed Potatoes” (June 62), “Ride” (December 62), “Do The Bird” (March 63), “Where Did I Go Wrong” (February 64) & “Wilyam, Wilyam” (also February 64). Still in her teens, she was now touring all over the US and Europe on packages that also featured many of the times top hit acts. Dee Dee’s commercial success resulted in her also enjoying album releases and for one of these she cut a great version of Chuck Jackson’s “Any Day Now”. Being based in Philadelphia also helped get Dee Dee some national TV exposure. The city was the home of the top US TV pop show, American Bandstand, and she appeared on the show twice in both 1962 & 1963. In January 1966, “I Really Love You” (b/w “Standing In The Need of Love”) became her last hit single on Parkway, however she had continued to release great sides on the label during the intervening period. One of the best of these, her 1964 outing “Deep Dark Secret”, has recently gone on to garner a strong following.

By 1966, Cameo Parkway was no longer the powerhouse outfit it had been 4 years earlier, so Dee Dee moved on. She was signed to Atco where her first outing was the classy Jimmy Bishop / Kenny Gamble penned song “My Best Friends Man” issued late in the year. A further Atco single escaped in 1967 but by that time Atlantic had decided to cut her down south. So she was sent to work with Chips Moman in his Memphis studio. Her first single release in 1968 however was another duet, teamed with Ben E King, they re-worked Doris Troy’s “What’cha Gonna Do About It”. This was followed by 45’s featuring her Memphis recordings; “A Woman Will Do Wrong” with “Help Me Find My Groove” becoming her 3rd single release that year. Unfortunately, even though her sterling vocal efforts on these songs helped produce cuts dripping in emotional intensity, they sank without trace. None of her five outings on Atco had enjoyed any real success and as a result both parties lost interest.

Luckily, Dee Dee still had Kenny Gamble in her corner (they had married in 1967). So he took her straight back into the studio where they cut some Gamble / Huff songs and a 45 was released on his Gamble label. Even though “What Kind of Lady” is up tempo Philly soul at its very best, it failed to return her to the charts (it was good enough however to gain a UK release on the Action label). Other duties then took precedence in her life and it would be 1970 before she gained her 2nd Gamble release. Gamble & Huff did a deal with CBS that resulted in their Philadelphia International imprint coming into being in 1981. One of the labels early releases featured Dee Dee on yet another duet, this time she was teamed with Bunny Sigler on “We Got a Good Thing Going On”. The likes of Billy Paul, the O’Jays and Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes, all signed to the new label, were soon enjoying massive hits, so Dee Dee again took a backroom job ((running Huga Management).

She returned at the start of 1976 when her album ‘Happy Bout the Whole Thing’ was released on Philadelphia International, with the up tempo title track also escaping on a T.S.O.P. label 45. A cover of the pop hit “I’m Not In Love”, finally returned her to the US soul charts following a 10 year break. She was back on the singles charts again (reaching # 4) in the summer of 1977, this time as a member of the Philadelphia All Stars on their release “Lets Clean Up the Ghetto”. Her 2nd solo PIR album, “What Color is Love” was also issued that year & tracks were again lifted from this to form singles. Another break followed before her ‘Dee Dee’ album came out. “I Love You Anyway” (b/w “Easy Money”) was taken from this album and issued on a single and in March 81 this became her last soul chart entry. Later that year, “Breaking & Entering”, became her final single and this was so popular in clubs that it topped the US dance chart.

Although she hasn’t recorded for a number of years (her last effort being “What a Way to Love” in 1984), she has continued to perform live. Indeed in July 2003 she starred (along with Chuck Jackson & Smokey Robinson) in a big concert held at the Telluride Conference Centre, Colorado. So just what kind of lady is Dee Dee Sharp – she’s the special kind.
Dee Dee will be one of the live acts appearing at next weekends (16/17/18 March) Prestatyn Soul Weekender to be held in Nth Wales (UK).

man, i wish i coulda went to this! nice lineup, what an event. thanks for the info on the artists, too.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?