In Paradise : The Cookies©2006JCMarion


Just about the time that Alan Freed began to broadcast his nightly Moondog radio show on WINS , a rarity for the time, an all female R & B vocal group called The Cookies is signed to a new record label located in Los Angeles. The new label is run by the Messner brothers who have made Aladdin Records a power on the West coast. The new record label will be called Lamp Records and is moving into the R & B field with this new signing. The Cookies were formed in Brooklyn, New York, in 1953 and were Earljean McCrae, Pat Lyles, and Margie Hendrix, and soon were set to record.In November of 1954 Lamp Records releases # 8008 featuring The Cookies with "All Night Mambo" and "Don't Let Go". The record did not make much of an impression and soon Lamp Records was out of the picture and New York's behemoth independent label Atlantic Records stepped into the breach.

The girls gave their vocal efforts a try at the famed Apollo Theater Amateur Night talent show. One of the listeners that night was Jesse Stone a top writer and producer for Atlantic Records. He liked what he heard and soon Atlantic signed The Cookies to their label in early February of 1955. In April of the year Atlantic Records released "Precious Love" and "Later Later" on # 1061. The group begins to do backup work for the label and by early 1956 is recording another Atlantic side under their own name. The songs are "In Paradise" and "Passing Time". In a brief period of time "In Paradise" begins to get the attention of radio listeners and record buyers. The song with a strange Latin-styled tempo with a male recitation in the middle captivates the time and is the group's first best seller. The record makes the best selling R & B record lists in places as widespread as Oklahoma City and Boston, and soon The Cookies are in demand for personal appearances. One of the biggest is with Hal Jackson of "The House That Jack Built" on radio WLIB in New York who emcees a big show at the Apollo Theater with The Cookies, Screamin Jay Hawkins, The Cadillacs, and Shirley Gunter & The Flairs in June of 1956. During the next month the girls return to the Apollo Theater with Tommy "Dr. Jive" Smalls R & B Revue with LaVern baker, The Cadillacs, Jayhawks, Bop Chords, Schoolboys, Vikki Nelson, and Billy Bland. In October of the year Atlantic releases its follow up to "In Paradise" with the tunes "Down By The River" and "My Lover" on Atlantic # 1110.

During the year Ray Charles one of Atlantic's top recording stars decided to go full time with an all female backing trio and the label placed The Cookies as his backup vocalists. However during the summer of 1957 Josie Records released "Hippy Dippy Daddy" and "King Of Hearts" on # 822. The group also appeared under their name at a big Labor Day week show at the Apollo Theater presented by "Jocko" Henderson and fewatured Fats Domino, Big Maybelle, Bo Diddley, The Harptones, Lee Andrews & The Hearts, and Reuben Phillips band. In January of 1958 The Cookies sing backup for Varetta Dillard on "Star Of Fortune" for RCA Victor. In February of 1958 Ray Charles makes it official - taking The Cookies on the road with his touring show and renaming them The Raelets. Margie Hendrix and Pat Lyles go with Charles full time and so The Cookies are McCrae, Dorothy Jones, and Dorothy Ross. The Cookies then ceased to exist as a recording entity but were not forgotten.

The group had done some back up work for artists that had led the "Brill Building" sound in the early nineteen sixties and were taken in by Don Kirschner for his Aldon music. And so the group was behind Neil Sedaka, Carol King, and finally a huge hit record by Little Eva of "The Locomotion". Finally they had a chance to record for the house label called Dimension Records and scored with some big hits during the pre Beatle sixties. "Chains" (with "Stranger In My Arms" on the flip side) on Dimension # 1002, and "Don't Say Nothing Bad About My Baby" on # 1008 were huge pop music hits. They also recorded "Will Power" / "I Want A Boy For My Birthday" on # 1012, "Girls Grow Up Faster Than Boys" / "Only To Other People" on # 1020, and the final record with "I Never Dreamed" and "The Old Crowd" on # 1032. By 1966 The Cookies had called it a career after thirteen years in the music business and many highs and lows. Although most of their work was done in support of other artists, they also had the opportunity to put over a song on their own and they were great !

The cds that are around have similar titles. "The Complete Cookies" for Sequel has all the Dimension sides and four solos by Earl-Jean in its 16 trax. "The Absolute Complete Cookies" is a harder to find 26 track cd for Chocolate Chip that features the Atlantic sides as well as the latter version of the group and the early sixties hits.

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