Goodman, Shirley

An African American couple posed in a studio photograph in semi-formal attire


Born: 1936

Died: 2005

Shirley Goodman was half of the R&B duo Shirley & Lee in the 1950s, alongside Leonard Lee. Goodman and Lee were both raised in New Orleans, and as teenagers, they conviced Cosimo Matassa to record a demo record for them at his studio. They landed at Aladdin Records and were initially they were billed as “the Sweethearts of the Blues.” The label had them sing romantic songs as if they were a couple, even though they were not. Some of their early efforts, including “I’m Gone” (1952) and “Feel So Good” (1955) did well on the R&B charts.

Their biggest hit, “Let the Good Times Roll,” came in 1956. It not only shot to the top of the R&B charts, but also made the Billboard Hot 100. By 1957, the duo was so popular that impostors imitating their act and stealing their bookings were arrested in Arkansas—the real Shirley & Lee subsequently sued for $75,000 in damages.

Shirley & Lee broke up in the 1960s, but Goodman kept working. You can hear her providing backing vocals for the Rolling Stones’ track “Shake It Loose” (from Exile on Main Street) and on several records by fellow New Orleanian Dr. John. She also paired with Sylvia Robinson on disco hit “Shame, Shame, Shame.”

“I’m Gone” / “Sweethearts.” Aladdin 45-3153 (1952).

“Baby” / “Shirley, Come Back To Me.” Aladdin 45-3173 (1953).

“Shirley’s Back” / “So In Love.” Aladdin 45-3192 (1953).

“The Proposal” / “Two Happy People.” Aladdin 45-3205 (1953).

“Keep On” / “Confessin’.” Aladdin 45-3244 (1954).

“You’d Be Thinking Of Me” / “Feel So Good.” Aladdin 45-3289 (1955).

“Lee’s Dream” / “I’ll Do It.” Aladdin 45-3302 (1955).

“That’s What I’ll Do” / “A Little Word” Aladdin 45-3313 (1956).

“Let The Good Times Roll” / “Do You Mean To Hurt Me So.” Aladdin 45-3325 (1956).

“I Feel Good” / “Now That It’s Over.” Aladdin 45-3338 (1956).

“That’s What I Wanna Do” / “When I Saw You.” Aladdin 45-3362 (1957).

“I Want To Dance” / “Marry Me.” Aladdin 45-3369 (1957).

“Rock All Nite” / “Don´t You Know I Love You.” Aladdin 45-3380 (1957).

“The Flirt” / “Rockin’ With The Clock.” Aladdin 45-3390 (1957).

Advertisement, Billboard, 15 December 1956, 64.

“Phoney Shirley & Lee Act Arrested in Arkansas,” Pittsburgh Courier, 2 February 1957.

“Obituaries: Shirley Goodman, Singer of ‘Let the Good Times Roll’,” The Independent, 12 July 2005.

Alan Clayson, “Other Lives: Shirley Goodman,” The Guardian, 27 September 2005 (

Return to Biographies Page