DEAR JERRY: Thanks for the information on the Four Preps. I always enjoyed their music and the other accomplishments, as a group and as individuals.
They were high school classmates and friends with Ricky Nelson and even appeared on the “Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” TV show.
One possible connection I have always wondered about involves the Four Coquettes' hit, “Sparkle and Shine.” Like the Four Preps at the time, this quartet recorded for Capitol.
“Sparkle and Shine” is one of the greatest girl group doo-wop songs, but I have never seen it on any of the many “Best of the Girl Groups” collections.
Fans of '50s and '60s girl groups that do not know about this song should and track it down.
I recall seeing where either Glen Larson or Ed Cobb, of the Four Preps, wrote this song.
Were the Preps involved in the production of “Sparkle and Shine”?
Terry Campbell, Ojai, Calif.
DEAR TERRY: “Sparkle and Shine” (Capitol 4534) is what we call a regional hit, a record very successful in some areas while inexplicably ignored by radio stations in other parts of the country.
Folks like me who lived in the Los Angeles area also Capitol Records' home base in the spring of 1961 probably know this tune.
I say inexplicably because 19 of the Top 20 best sellers in L.A., according to the KRLA Tundex Survey for the Week of April 21 to 28, 1961, also held significant positions on the two national charts.
The only one that made neither the Cash Box nor the Billboard Top 100 is No. 6 that week, “Sparkle and Shine.”
To put this in musical perspective, the five hits, all now considered '60s classics, above the Four Coquettes that week are: 1. “Runaway” (Del Shannon); 2. “Mother-in-Law” (Ernie K-Doe); 3. “Blue Moon” (Marcels); 4. “I've Told Every Little Star” (Linda Scott); 5. “A Hundred Pounds of Clay” (Gene McDaniels).
The Prep involved with the Four Coquettes is one of the two you didn't mention: Bruce Belland.
He alone is credited as the writer of “Sparkle and Shine,” and, as the group's manager, there is also reason to believe he produced the session.
DEAR JERRY: I'm writing about a scene in “American Hot Wax,” the film based on the Alan Freed story.
It involves a young girl, one who may be depicting Carole King, whose goal is to get Freed to pay attention to her music.
She meets an R&B group singing on the street and teaches them “a new song she wrote based on the alphabet.” It turns out to be “The ABCs of Love.”
The record really did become a hit for Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, but I would like to know if Carole King really wrote it.
If so, she would have been very young, though old enough to know the alphabet.
Dana Lynch, York, Pa.
DEAR DANA: Carole, who would have been just 12 at the time, did not write the 1956 hit “The ABCs of Love.”
The teenage character named Louise, played by Laraine Newman, does indeed claim to have composed this song, which is strange because a man, Richard Barrett, wrote “The ABCs of Love:” .
Barrett, writer of about 150 Rock Era songs, is credited with the discovery of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, the Chantells, Little Anthony and the Imperials. He also sang lead for the Valentines.
IZ ZAT SO? Unless forced by litigation, or threat of same, groups rarely change their name just after establishing themselves with a debut hit. Yet that is what Capitol did with the Four Coquettes.
After “Sparkle and Shine,” this quartet Judi Hersch, Mary Anne Lucas, Carol McConkey, and Muffy Cohan became the Four Cal-Quettes.
According to a Capitol Records publicity mailer for “Star Bright” (Capitol 4574):
“We know that “Sparkle and Shine” was by the Four Coquettes and this is the same great group. However, it seems there is another group on the singles scene called the Coquettes. Confusing? Not really!”
Another Coquettes? Perhaps, but I could find no other successful acts in 1960 or '61 with that or a similar name. A few different Coquettes recorded in the '50s, for RCA Victor (1955), Columbia (1957), and MGM (1959), but that should not have mattered in 1961.