Peaches & Herb – In Session for Soul! – WNDT, New York – January 16, 1969 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
Sharing the bill with Ruby & The Romantics from an earlier post, Peaches & Herb were another act who were up-and-coming at the time of this broadcast. By this time (1969), original founding member Francine Baker had already left and was replaced by Peaches Number 2, Marlene Mack, and she is the one who remained throughout the period on Date Records, where most of their early hits (starting in 1967) were made.
As was always the case with this pivotal TV series, the acts sang live, without the aid of pre-recording and the historic aspect of these rare appearances can’t be underestimated, since Soul! was one of the few regular shows who featured acts performing without miming.
There have been several incarnations of Peaches & Herb over the years but this one captures a very popular Soul group during their early years, when they were just getting known and reaching out to a wider audience.
Herb Fame (born Herbert Feemster, October 1, 1942, in Anacostia, Washington, D.C.), sang in church and neighborhood groups as a child. After graduation from high school, he worked in a local record store, where he met record producer Van McCoy and was signed to Columbia subsidiary Date Records by McCoy and A&R executive Dave Kapralik. Francine “Peaches” Barker (April 28, 1947 – August 13, 2005), using the stage name Francine Day, started a singing trio initially dubbed The Darlettes and later renamed The Sweet Things after a change of record label to Date Records. Having produced two releases for the trio, McCoy decided to record Feemster/Fame and Hurd/Day together at Kapralik’s suggestion. The resulting single, “We’re in This Thing Together,” was distributed to radio stations but went nowhere for months until December 1966, when a St. Louis disc jockey broadcast the single’s B-side, a revival of the 1934 hit “Let’s Fall in Love”.
The new duo, christened “Peaches & Herb”, had a string of successful singles and albums over the next year such as “Close Your Eyes”, “For Your Love”, “Let’s Fall in Love”, and “Love Is Strange”. Despite burgeoning success and a media image as the “Sweethearts of Soul”, Barker chose to semi-retire from the duo after two years because of the rigors of touring. Marlene Mack (aka Marlene Jenkins), who had sung on the Jaynetts’ hit “Sally Go ‘Round the Roses” and had recorded as Marlina Mars, replaced Barker on stage, but Barker remained on all of the duo’s recordings for Date Records. During this period, the semi-retired “Peaches” also worked as a solo artist using her married name, Francine Barker. She released three singles in total on the Columbia Records label, including “Angels in the Sky” and “Mister DJ”.
Fame retired the act in 1970 when, for personal reasons, he enrolled in the police academy of Washington, D.C. and thereafter joined the city’s police department.
Here is that session from January 1969 (which includes an interview), clocking in at a little under 10 minutes. It’s short, but every second is fascinating. Enjoy.
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