THE RISE OF THE PARIS SISTERS.
THE RISE OF THE PARIS SISTERS.
The Paris Sisters weren’t an overnight success. Far from it. It took nearly a decade of hard work and dedication before they made a commercial breakthrough. Suddenly, all the hard work was worthwhile.
Especially when I Love How You Love Me reached five on the US Billboard 100 in October 1961, and in the process, sold over one million copies. This is just one of The Paris Sisters’ hit singles enjoyed during their Their story began in the early fifties.
That’s when former opera singer, Faye Filzer decided that her three talented daughters had the potential to pursue a career in the world of entertainment. So Priscilla, her elder sister Albeth and their middle sister Sherrell became The Paris Sisters, San Francisco’s latest singing trio.
Faye Flzer, it seemed had looked towards “sister groups” like the Andrews Sisters and McGuire Sisters for inspiration. She decided that her daughters would follow in their footsteps, and hopefully, enjoy the same success.
In the early days, The Paris Sisters appeared at Elk Clubs and Navy bases. However, soon, it became apparent that The Paris Sisters would have to hone their singing talents.
With their mother’s help, The Paris Sisters honed their voices. So much so, that by 1954, they were recording for the local Cavalier label. Faye Filzer wanted to document their progress. Anything else was a bonus. However, not long after this, Faye Filzer managed to secure the endorsement of the Andrews Sisters for The Paris Sisters. This lead to the nascent group signing to Decca Records.
By then, The Paris Sisters were constantly appearing at fairs and clubs. These appearances ensured that The Paris Sisters were already well known across the western states. This should’ve meant that Decca Records had a captive audience for The Paris Sisters’ singles.
That wasn’t the case. The Paris Sisters released six singles between 1955 and 1958 for Decca Records, and then Imperial. They all failed to catch the attention of record buyers. Maybe that’s why Faye Filzer decided to let a manager take charge of The Paris Sisters.
Norman Weiss became The Paris Sisters’ manager, in exchange for a twenty-five percent of their earnings. Straight away, he got them a booking in the Dunes Hotel, Las Vegas. The Paris Sisters were booked to do four fifty minute shows a night. It was no surprise that Priscilla’s vocal was damaged. Luckily, she recovered and soon, was back on the road.
By then, The Paris Sisters had all finished their schooling. Then in 1959, Albeth met dance instructor Clancy Grass in Vancouver. The Paris Sisters were in Vancouver to do a show, when Albeth met her future husband Clancy Grass. The relationship didn’t go down well with Albeth’s parents, Faye and Walter Filzer.
Norman Weiss tried to intervene, and act as a go-between, This backfired, and Faye Filzer started shopping The Paris Sisters to other management companies. Some of these companies were in Los Angeles, where Faye and Walter Filzer now lived. That’s where Faye Filzer met Lester Sill.
He was a veteran of the music business, and could spot talent at twenty paces. Lester Sill realised that The Paris Sisters had bags of potential, and began telling Faye Filzer about his new business partner Phil Spector, who was in the process of forging a career as a producer.
Before long, The Paris Sisters were were introduced to Phil Spector, who set about changing their style. It would be very different to other groups who Phil Spector would later work with. Priscilla’s almost reserved, demure vocal took charge of the lead, while Albeth and Sherrell added cooing harmonies. Sometimes, Sherrell switched to lead, the other two sisters added harmonies. With these changes in place, Phil Spector took The Paris Sisters into the recording studio.
For Phil Spector’s first recording session with The Paris Sisters, Gold Star Studios was chosen. That’s where the ballad Be My Boy was recorded. Once Be My Boy was recorded, Lester Sill struggled to sell the master.
So he decided to release the single on the Gregmark label, which he owned with Lee Hazelwood. When Be My Boy was released in March 1960, comparisons were drawn to The Teddy Bears. However, soon, the single was climbing the charts, but stalled at just fifty-six in the US Billboard 100. For The Paris Sisters, this was their first hit single. It wouldn’t be their last.
Following the success By My Boy, Phil Spector continued to hone The Paris Sisters’ sound. Only then, would he record The Paris Sisters’ next single I Love How You Love Me which saw a move towards rock ’n’ roll on this string drenched ballad. Again, comparisons were drawn with The Teddy Bears, and To Know Him Is To Love Him. However, when I Love How You Love Me was released in August 1961 on Gregmark, it quickly found favour with DJs and record buyers. Eventually, the single reached number five in the US Billboard 100, and sold one million copies. By then Norman Weiss was no longer The Paris Sisters’ manager.
Faye Wilzer has extricated her daughters from their contract with Norman Weiss. Replacing him was Jess Rand who was Sam Cooke’s manager. He had a busy schedule, managing The Letterman and Sam Cooke. However, after December 11th 1964, he would have much more space in his diary.
Little did Jess Rand realise that The Paris Sisters had enjoyed the biggest hit of their career. They would enjoy further hits, but never had as a big a hit as I Love How You Love Me. It wasn’t through trying though.
One of the first things Jess Rand did, was hire a publicist. They were in place as The Paris Sisters released He Knows I Love Him Too Much as a single in March 1962. It was released on Gregmark,but reached just thirty-two in the Billboard 100. Given the success of I Love How You Love Me this was a disappointment. However, Gregmark was just a small label. The Paris Sisters should’ve been signed to a major. This was hampering The Paris Sisters’ career.
Not long after the release He Knows I Love Him Too Much, Let Me Be The One was released as a single on Gregmark later in 1962. It looked like Phil Spector had been building up a supply of songs from The Paris Sisters. Maybe he feared they would leave for a bigger label, and wanted some songs in reserve?
When Let Me Be The One was released it stalled at just eighty-seven on the Billboard 100. This was another disappointment for The Paris Sisters. Less than a year earlier, they were enjoying a million selling single.
Things didn’t improve for The Paris Sisters. Neither Let Me Be The One, nor Yes, I Love, which was released in November 1962, charted. To make matters, Phil Spector and his business partner Lester Sill were clashing. At the root of the problem, was Phil Spector’s success, and his decision to found his own label, Phillies. Adding fuel to the fire, was Phil Spector encouraging Priscilla to pursue a solo career. By then, Phil Spector and Priscilla were alleged to have been dating. There were even rumours of a marriage proposal. Things were getting complicated.
Especially when Phil Spector and Lester Sill began a legal battle that lasted years. Then came the announcement that The Paris Sisters album was cancelled. It’s thought that Phil Spector had destroyed the tapes. By then, Jess Rand was spending more of his time managing The Letterman. So Clancy Grass became The Paris Sisters’ co-manager. This was perfect timing, as in August 1963, there was some good news for The Paris Sisters. They signed to Columbia Records.
At last The Paris Sisters were on a major. With a manager who was determined to look after The Paris Sisters’ best interests, things were looking good for The Paris Sisters as a period of change began.
No longer was Phil Spector producing The Paris Sisters. Instead, Terry Melcher, Doris Day’s son, took charge of producing The Paris Sisters. The rise and rise of Terry Melcher had been rapid.
Initially, Terry Melcher worked in the post room at his mother’s record company. Then he secured a junior post in A&R at Columbia. From there, he moved into production, where he was entrusted with The Paris Sisters’ career.
At his first session, with The Paris Sisters, Terry Melcher concentrated on building a big, bold arrangement on Play It One More Time. He also double-tracked Priscilla’s vocal, which was meant to give her vocal a teenage sound. This was no different to what Phil Spector had been doing. Despite recording several tracks, none of the tracks recorded during the Terry Melcher session were ever released by Columbia.
After their encounter with ‘producer’ Terry Melcher, The Paris Sisters’ were assigned to a new production team. This time, Fred Benson and Nik Venet, took charge of production duties during the next The Paris Sisters’ session. Ben-Ven Productions were responsible for The Paris Sisters 1964 single Dream Lover, and the flip side Lonely Girl. Recording took place to fit in with The Paris Sisters’ schedule. They still seemed to be undertaking a gruelling schedule, and in 1964, appeared on American Bandstand. Still The Paris Sisters were hugely successful live.
Despite this, when Dream Lover was released later in 1964, it flopped. That’s despite being one of The Paris Sisters’ best singles in recent years. By then, The Paris Sisters were recording their long-awaited debut album. It was meant to feature a mixture of standards and pop covers. However, Columbia were having cold feet. The next single would be crucial.
In August 1964, The Paris Sisters covered Nat King Cole’s When I Fall In Love. It was released as a single, but failed commercially. A decision was made to cancel The Paris Sisters’ debut album. Another year would pass before Columbia released another single by The Paris Sisters.
A year after the release of their last single, The Paris Sisters entered the studio with producer Mike Curb. He produced the heartfelt ballad Always Waitin’ on MGM Records. On the B-Side was Why Do I Take It From You which was penned by Priscilla. She delivers a wistful, breathy vocal that’s so good, it deserved to fare better than a B-Side. Sadly, commercial success continued to elude The Paris Sisters. However, they were just as busy as ever with live work.
Despite this the next two years saw The Paris Sisters release a string of singles for Reprise Records. In 1966, The Paris Sisters entered the studio with producer Jack Nitzsche, and they cut two fine singles. My Good Friend was a much more uptempo track, that showed another side to The Paris Sisters. You was another uptempo cut, with I’m Me, a beautiful rueful ballad on the flip side. Although neither single charted, The Paris Sisters released their debut album.
When Sing From “The Glass House” was released, it wasn’t the album that The Paris Sisters had envisaged a few years earlier. They had been asked to provide the soundtrack to a television show The Glass House. So Priscilla Paris penned six of the ten tracks, and Mike Curb wrote Help Me. Once the album was complete, it was announced that The Glass Show wouldn’t be aired. For The Paris Sisters this was a huge blow, as the show was being aired coast to coast. Despite this Sing From “The Glass House” was released by Unifilms in 1966, but never was the success that The Paris Sisters had hoped. This was a disappointing end to what had been one of the busiest years of The Paris Sisters’ recording career.
1967 proved to be just as busy. Some Of Your Lovin’ was released as a single, but doesn’t feature on Always Heavenly-The Paris Sisters Anthology. The B-Side, I Came A Long Way To Nowhere which is a heart-wrenching ballad, was produced by Clancy Grass and Mike Curb. It shows how The Paris Sisters music was evolving, and moving with the times. Later in 1967, The Paris Sisters released their second and third album.
Sing Everything Under The Sun!!! was released by Reprise Records in 1967. It featured the tracks The Paris Sisters had recorded between 1966 and 1967. This included My Good Friend, You, It’s Me and See That Boy. They all feature on Always Heavenly-The Paris Sisters Anthology. These are among Sing Everything Under The Sun!!!’s highlight. Later in 1967, came The Paris Sisters’ third album.
It was Mike Curb who noticed that The Paris Sisters had never released a Greatest Hits album. So he suggested The Paris Sisters rerecord some of their earlier hits, and some new songs. Eventually, three new songs found their way onto Golden Hits Of The Paris Sisters. This included Together, See That Boy and Won’t You Help Me. Together and See That Boy seem to hark back to the golden age of the classic girl group sound. These new songs should’ve appealed to diehard fans of The Paris Sisters. Sadly, that wasn’t the case, and Golden Hits Of The Paris Sisters failed commercially. It seemed The Paris Sisters recording career was at a crossroads.
By 1968, The Paris Sisters were signed to Capitol Records, and released Greener Days as a single. On the B-Side was Golden Days. Alas, when Greener Days was released, it failed commercially, and The Paris Sisters moved on.
Next stop was GNP-Crescendo, where in August 1968, The Paris Sisters released The Ugliest Girl In Town. On the flip-side was Stand Naked Clown. Sadly, history repeated itself and The Ugliest Girl In Town flopped. Three months later and The Paris Sisters were history.
In November 1968, The Paris Sisters announced they had split-up. Their recording career had lasted fourteen years, but three years had passed since The Paris Sisters enjoyed a hit single. It was the end of era for The Paris Sisters.
Their career had outlasted many other girl groups. There were several reasons for this. The Paris Sisters were versatile and equally comfortable singing ballads and uptempo tracks, and throughout their career, reinvented themselves musically. That’s why for a while, they were one of the most successful girl groups of the sixties. However, The Paris Sisters weren’t an overnight success.
Far from it. It took nearly a decade of hard work and dedication before they made a commercial breakthrough. However, when Phil Spector produced their million selling single I Love How You Love Me Suddenly in 1961, all the hard work was worthwhile. After that, The Paris Sisters constantly toured America, going coast to coast and enjoying the success while it lasted.
Sadly, nothing lasts forever, and by 1966 the hits had dried up. Luckily, The Paris Sisters were still a popular live draw, and right throughout until they spilt up in 1968. By then, The Paris Sisters Anthology, were one of the most successful girl groups of the sixties.
THE RISE OF THE THE PARIS SISTERS.