Peaches and Herb
Peaches and Herb
In the mid-Sixties Peaches & Herb were "The Sweethearts Of Soul," chart-bound contemporaries of Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell and many other blessed musical pairings. By the mid-Seventies, the duo had reinvented itself; one moment disco darlings, the next heart-and-soul honeys.
The duo's career began in earnest in the mid-â€˜60s. Herb worked in a Washington D.C. record store, selling others' hits while daydreaming of his own shot a fame. R&B producer and songwriter and fellow D.C. resident, auditioning him in the store's stock room. With his partner, CBS executive Dave Kapralik (who later discovered Sly & The Family Stone), McCoy signed Herb Feemster - now Fame - to Columbia subsidiary Date Records.
Herb was teamed with Francine Barker, a member of vocal trio The Sweet Things. As Peaches & Herb their first singles for the label failed, until radio d.j.s flipped the duo's very first release, "We're In This Thing Together," and found "Let's Fall In Love" in late 1966. Follow up tunes like "Close Your Eyes" and "For Your Love" were crossover dreams but Herb was less than satisfied. "We never reached the ultimate in success," he later confided in an interview with Britain's Blues & Soul magazine."
Herb called it quits in 1970. "I decided to give it all up for personal reasons. It wasn't an overnight decision." He joined Washington, D.C's police force; Francine Barker opted for marriage. A combination of missing the spotlight and an on-the-job scare gave Herb cause for serious re-evalutation. "Every time I'd go to a concert, I'd want to be up there," he shared with Blues & Soul in 1977. "[But] what really turned me around was being involved in a hold-up where I found myself shooting at a guy while he was shooting back at me. Then I knew it was time to get back into the business."
A call to Van McCoy did the trick: he introduced Herb to Linda Greene, another D.C. resident. After one album for MCA in 1977 which spawned the charted hit "We're Still Together," Peaches & Herb resurfaced a year later with producer/songwriter Freddie Perren, an old friend from D.C. now L.A.-based, the magic man behind the first Jackson 5 hits and the pop-disco transformations of Tavares and others.
For Perren, reinventing Peaches & Herb was a cinch: while he had his finger firmly on the dance pulse, he knew that in its first incarnation the duo had been synonymous with sweet soul slow jams. The first batch of songs Perren and writing partner Dino Fekaris created for Peaches & Herb's debut MVP/Polydor session followed the formula: the upbeat "We've Got Love" and the now-classic ballad "Reunited." In a 1980 interview with Blues & Soul, Perren recalled that recording "Reunited" provoked much emotion from Fame and Green. "When Peaches first heard it," he said, "She started to cry while Herb just stood there shaking his head." Perren and Polydor initially held the song back on the 2 Hot! Album and instead went full out with "Shake Your Groove Thing," head to head against the disco dominators of the day.
"Groove Thing" was an instant blockbuster, giving Fame and Greene a gold single right off the bat. Then, unleashing their "secret weapon," the duo came right back with "Reunited," a million-seller that firmly re-established Peaches & Herb as cross-generational hitmakers.
Peaches & Herb worked with Perren through three more Polydor LPs and divined more great moments including "I Pledge My Love" and "Roller Skatin' Mate" from Twice The Fire; "Fun Time" and "The Love Stealers" (from Worth The Wait); "Freeway" and "One Child Of Love" from their final Polydor album Saying Something!
Peaches & Herb split from Freddie Perren and signed with Columbia Records in 1983, scoring just one minor chart single. By the mid-80s they had ceased as an act, Fame returning to a full-time position in law enforcement and Greene raising a family with husband, songwriter Steve Tavani. The Tavanis have since recorded several Gospel albums together.
In the early 90s, following a successful suit against Perren's MVP Records for past royalties, Herb returned to the stage with new Peaches, Linda Hawthorne, appearing sporadically in oldies shows while Fame kept a day job working for the US Marshall Service.
More recently, newcomer Meritxell (Mah-dÄ-chell) Negre joined Herb as the new Peaches, and in Spring of 2009 the two released the first new Peaches & Herb disc in a quarter century, Colors of Love, on Imagen Records. The disc makes a few nods to contemporary R&B (even including a rap interlude) but is at its best when the duo combines for sweet ballads, such as "If You Say You Love Me," that hearken to the lovely ballads that were the centerpieces of some of Peaches & Herb's most memorable work.
Contributed by David Nathan (http://www.soulmusic.com) and Chris Rizik