Sparkle Moore was born Barbara Morgan in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1936. She grew up loving music and had diverse influences. She developed a particular affinity for the sound of the Hawaiian steel guitar and learned to play the instrument herself, but she also listened to country, gospel, vaudeville. She discovered rock and roll unexpectedly when she saw Bill Haley perform at a country music show in the mid 1950s. She began playing rockabilly at venues around Omaha by 1955.
Betty Jean Morris was an R&B singer with one known release on Capitol Records, “Shack Daddy” backed with “I Ain’t Gonna Mambo.” She was reportedly discovered by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller while singing in a Los Angles cafe, and the songwriting team wrote the two songs for her. “Shack Daddy” was a 12-bar blues, and “I Ain’t Gonna Mambo” was an effort to capitalize on a current fad for mambos. Billboard remarked that “the gal has a real wild style.”
Bunny Paul was born in Detroit, Michigan, where she first gained regional stardom—she was also very popular in neighboring Windsor, Ontario—frequented clubs from a young age. In her papers, which reside in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s archives, there’s a photo of Paul standing below the marquee of a venue called the Peoria Room, which reads “Bunny Paul Vocalist Extraordinary.” Written at the bottom of the photo in her hand: “My first job without a band, 20 years old.”
Laura Lee Perkins was born Alice Faye Perkins, and she grew up in a coal mining town about fifty miles outside of Charleston, West Virginia. Perkins learned to play the guitar and sing at home, and her family was gifted a piano when she was a child. She never took lessons, but taught herself to play proficiently.
Barbara Pittman was born and raised in Memphis, Tennesee. She became interested in music in part because her uncle owned a pawn shop, and she got to meet the musicians who came through to buy or sell instruments. She grew up near Elvis Presley, and the two were childhood acquaintances. Her first professional gig was touring with singing cowboy movie star Lash LaRue. Pittman recorded for Sun and Phillips International, releasing four singles between 1956 and 1960 and recording several more sides that Sam Phillips never issued.
Gloria Jean Pitts recorded for two California-based labels, Imperial and Music City. It appears that the only record ever released under the name “Gloria Jean Pitts” was the R&B single “I Don’t Stand No Quittin’” backed with “Things You Should Know” on Imperial. The copyright for the song “I Don’t Stand No Quittin’” is also claimed by Pitts.
The Poni-Tails were a trio of singers from Brush High School in Cleveland, Ohio, originally formed in 1955. The group consisted first of Karin Topinka, Pat McCabe, and Toni Cistone; LaVerne Novak replaced Topinka in 1957 (reportedly when the latter’s parents objected to her pursuing a musical career). While seniors in high school, Topinka, McCabe, and Cistone began singing together on something of a whim.
Dodie Randle was described by one newspaper in Hackensack, New Jersey as “[Decca’s] female answer to Elvis Presley.” The raw, even amateurish rockabilly sound of both sides of her only known single, “Man Hunt” / “I Feel in Love Again,” might indicate that this was true. The single was released in 1957, at the height of Presley mania.
The Rhythmettes were a three-member vocal group from the Detroit area. The members were Donna Watkins, Nadine Small and Jo Craig. They met in the Don Large Chorus, which was affiliated with Fred Waring, in 1950 and decided to form their own smaller group. They played local nightclubs and USO benefits and became known for their charity work. The Rhythmettes took on New York City in 1954, and they became acquainted with Alan Freed.
Beverly Ross was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in New Jersey. She began to write songs while still a student, contributing to musical productions at her high school and winning competitions. She also began hanging around the Brill Building when she would visit a cousin in in the city, hoping for a chance to write professionally. Eventually, R&B songwriter Julius Dixon gave her a break and helped her to make her first connections in the business. Not yet out of high school in New Jersey, Ross would sometimes miss class on Fridays to be around during the week to pitch her songs.