The Fleetwoods Biography

One of America’s most popular doo-wop groups in the late 50s comprised Gary Troxell (28 November 1939, Centralia, Washington, DC, USA), Gretchen Christopher (b. 29 February 1940, Olympia, Washington, DC, USA) and Barbara Ellis (b. 20 February 1940, Olympia, Washington, USA). They met while seniors at high school in the girls’ home town. Originally a female duo, they recruited Troxell initially to play trumpet. The girls had composed a song, while independently, Troxell had written a hook that went something like: ‘Mmm Dooby Doo, Dum Dim Dum Doo Dum’; they put them together and ‘Come Softly To Me’ was born. Their first moniker, Two Girls And A Guy, was changed by a Seattle record distributor Bob Reisdorff, who became their manager and founded Dolphin Records (later called Dolton), which released the single. Chart fame was instant for the distinctive trio and the haunting and catchy song (on which the vocal was recorded a cappella) shot to the top of the US charts and made the UK Top 10 despite a hit cover version by Frankie Vaughan and the Kaye Sisters. Their third release, ‘Mr. Blue’, a Dwayne Blackwell song originally written for the Platters, was also a US number 1 (in the UK two cover versions took the honours) and made Troxell one of the leaders in the teen-idol stakes. In the midst of their success he was drafted into the navy, his place being taken when necessary by subsequent solo star Vic Dana. Despite Troxell’s absence, the US hits continued and they totalled nine Top 40 hits between 1959 and 1963, including the number 10 hit ‘Tragedy’, a revival of the Thomas Wayne song. The unmistakable close-harmony trio surfaced again in 1973 when they signed with the noted producer Jerry Dennon, but no hits resulted from this brief collaboration.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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