Shirley! Shirley, Shirley bo Birley, Bonana fanna fo Firley, Fee fy mo Mirley, Shirley!
May 22, 2010 8:37 AM   Subscribe

Singer/songwriter Shirley Ellis is best known for her hits "The Nitty Gritty", "The Name Game" and "The Clapping Song," but there's...

Ellis was only 13 when her song "Pretty Wild" was recorded by The Chords (of "Sh-Boom" fame). As a teenager she won an Amateur Night competition at The Apollo Theatre, performed with a group named The Metronomes, wrote "One, Two, I Love You" (recorded by The Heartbreakers) and met Lincoln Chase, who would become her songwriting partner, manager and producer (not to mention her husband).

Ellis co-wrote all the mid-'60s hits listed above the fold with Chase, but her 1965 LP The Name Game also included a stellar version of "Stardust." "The Puzzle Song" was her last chart showing with Congress Records. She then signed with Columbia, where she released the single "Soul Time" and an unsuccessful LP before drifting off into a dignified retirement from the music business.
posted by The Card Cheat (10 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Nice post. MetaFilter fo bilter, banana fanna fo milter, MeFi fo filter, off-kilter...
posted by fixedgear at 8:54 AM on May 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ah, The Name Game. Let's do Chuck! Whoops...
posted by GaelFC at 9:07 AM on May 22, 2010 [3 favorites]

Aha! Whenever I heard "The Name Game" on the radio I wondered why, of all the names in the world, Shirley chose "Lincoln" as her second name to futz with (especially when all the other names in the song are more plain/mainstream, like Mary and Fred and Arnold). Lincoln Chase was her manager/producer.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:25 AM on May 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nice post. MetaFilter fo bilter, banana fanna fo milter, MeFi fo filter, off-kilter...
Great minds. My first thought was "Metafilter: Fo filter."
posted by xedrik at 9:50 AM on May 22, 2010

Thanks for the nice post.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:50 PM on May 22, 2010

"... dignified retirement from the music business."

She had a certain dignity to begin with. There's nothing needy or emotionally pleading in her voice. She sings with both feet on the ground. If she pulled of a dignified retirement, I'm glad for her.
posted by Faze at 1:05 PM on May 22, 2010

She's one of those artists who created their own sub-genre. A queen of wordplay, her flow is great on everything! Meanwhile, a lot of her records had audience sounds and an onstage performance ambiance...were they really cut live in concert, or was that merely added for effect?
posted by bonefish at 1:34 PM on May 22, 2010

The ultimate Shirley Ellis song is "Ever See A Diver Kiss His Wife While The Bubbles Bounce About Above The Water?" which has all of her hallmarks, plus a total weird subject and a couple of *genius* spoken words from an unknown (to me) male vocalist. I could listen to it a million times.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 9:12 PM on May 22, 2010

Now let's do Chuck!!!
posted by yhbc at 9:48 PM on May 23, 2010

God don't make her sound so old when Name Game hit. she was only 24.

Looking for an -old lady- who had a teen hit like that? No song reached almost every teenage girl in the country like Name Game until Toni Basil's "Mickey". Basil was -39-. Yeah, don't let the costume fool ya.

There's prolly been one since then, but I don't know it.
posted by Twang at 1:12 AM on May 24, 2010

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