Photo: Lauren Onkey, Laura Greenwich Weiner, Jean Thomas, Mikie Harris, Paul Schaffer, Susan Collins, and Seymour Stein
This past weekend our friends at the Ponderosa Stomp put together an amazing tribute to the girl groups as part of the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival. The Saturday night concert featured a parade of great women singers, songwriters and producers who had taken over rock and roll in the early sixties – from Arlene Smith of the Chantels, who started it all with "Maybe," to Maxine Brown, Baby Washington, the Angels, La La Brooks, Lesley Gore and the Exciters. Also on hand to perform the backing vocals were women including Mikie Harris and Jean Thomas, who sang on countless sessions in New York in the girl group era, and Toni Wine, a great singer, songwriter, and arranger. And that's just a sample. The show closed with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Ronnie Spector delivering a thunderous performance of "Be My Baby," backed by the biggest and best army of backup singers ever assembled.
It was a soaring tribute to the era when women first broke into rock and roll. I was at Lincoln Center as part of the Rock Hall’s outreach for the Museum's Women Who Rock exhibit. On Saturday I moderated a panel in the Girl Talk! Symposium that was a tribute to the late, great Ellie Greenwich. With her skilled songwriting and studio experience Ellie defined the girl group era. Seymour Stein made a surprise appearance and joined Ellie's sister Laura, Paul Schaffer, and singers Mikie Harris, Jean Thomas, and Susan Collins in a poignant, raucous conversation. It was a thrill to see all these rockin' women get their due.
Related Exhibit: Women Who Rock
Related Link: Photo gallery from the New York Times