Shake Your Groove Thing – Peaches and Herb
Though “Peaches and Herb” was billed as a duo, their member rotation is more similar to a group’s. Herb has remained the only constant with, at last count, six “Peaches” stepping up to the microphone.
The original “Peaches,” Francine Hurd Barker, (died 8-13-2005), a Washington, D.C., native, earned the childhood nickname “Peaches” because of her genteel manner.
She sang in neighborhood groups and in her teens became the lead singer for a group named The Keynotes. Starting her own group, The Darlettes, they auditioned for and
were signed to D.C. area label Date Records, where their name was changed to The Sweet Things.
Herb Fame, born Herbert Feemster on October 1st, 1942, in Washington, D.C., began singing in church at seven and continued singing through the years in neighborhood groups. After high school graduation, Herb began working at a record store. His friend, Howard University student Freddie Perren, worked at another record store, Sabin’s right around the corner. One day in January 1965, producer Van McCoy came into the store Herb worked in to ask about doing in-store promotion for a group he was working with called The Sweet Things. Herb convinced McCoy to grant him an audition, and a week later the young record store employee was signed to a contract with Date Records.
McCoy took Herb and The Sweet Things to New York for their first recording sessions, but while they were there, decided to use some extra studio time to record a duet with Herb and the lead singer of The Sweet Things, Francine Barker. Impressed with the results McCoy convinced Date Records to release a single of “We’re In This Thing Together.” The original A-side failed to generate much interest. Then a disc jockey at St. Louis, Missouri, radio station KATZ flipped the single over and began playing the B-side, “Let’s Fall In Love.” It was soon moving up the Hot 100, peaking at #-21 in March of 1967. Before the year was over, Peaches and Herb had three more hits: “Close Your Eyes” (#-8 in May), “For Your Love” (#-20 in August) and “Love Is Strange” (#-11 in November). The duo released two hit albums in 1967 “Let’s Fall In Love” and”For Your Love.” By the years end the duo had earned the nickname The Sweethearts Of Soul.
This same year, Francine Barker tired of the rigors of touring and bowed out, she was replaced with Marlene Mack. And the hits continued: “Two Little Kids” (#-31 in January 1968), “When He Touches Me (Nothing Else Matters)” (#-10 R&B in 1969) and “It’s Just A Game, Love” (from the Jim Brown movie “The Split”), (which stalled at #-50 R&B in 1970). It was Peaches and Herb’s last charting single on Date Records. Despondent over
the act’s failing chart success, Herb abruptly quit Peaches and Herb and got a job with the Washington, D.C. Police Department in July 1970.
Then in 1976, Herb decided to re-enter the music business. Linda Greene was home in Washington D.C. that year after working as a model. “I bumped into Van and told him I was at home now and wished I could get into the music business. I thought I was ready to handle something like that” she told the Associated Press. Van mentioned Linda’s name to Herb’s manager and the two met and hit it off. Van, who was currently under contract to MCA Records, brought the “new” Peaches & Herb over to the label and produced their 1977 self-titled release. The duo charted in June with “We’re Still Together” but the albums sales were dismal and it sank without a trace.
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