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Shirelles, 5th Dimension Join Vocal Group Hall
With her fellow 5th Dimension members Lamonte McLemore and Willie Williams joining her on the podium, Florence LaRue fought back the tears last weekend as the group received their Harmony Awards as inWith her fellow 5th Dimension members Lamonte McLemore and Willie Williams joining her on the podium, Florence LaRue fought back the tears last night (Sept. 17) as the group received their Harmony Awards as inductees into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. "We accept this on behalf of Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, who were unable to attend today, and for the memory of Ron Townson," she said. "Ron would have been in heaven on earth, because he especially enjoyed these groups. We accept this award with pride and humility."
LaRue's show of emotion was echoed by the other inductees at the fifth annual Vocal Group Hall of Fame inductions in Sharon, Pa., as harmony groups, doo-wop quartets, gospel outfits, and pop/soul hitmakers were honored and remembered with Harmony Awards. Besides the 5th Dimension, this year's class included ABBA, the Shirelles, the Chantels, Jay and the Americans, the Marcels, the Skyliners, the Harptones, the Clovers, the Five Keys, the Swan Silvertones, and the Four Knights.
As the two surviving Shirelles, Shirley Alston Reeves and Beverly Lee, accepted their awards, Reeves thanked the Chantels, citing them as an influence and inspiration. "We wanted to call ourselves the Chanels, just so we could be as close to the Chantels as possible," she said.
There were also moments of levity throughout the ceremony. "All we did was sing about life," said the Clovers' Steve Charles. "'Love Potion Number Nine' is every scotch and soda, bourbon and water, rum and coke you ever drank. And I don't know about you, but 'Devil or Angel' is about every marriage I ever had!"
The ceremonies were also marked by the appearance of former Hall inductees who had the honor of introducing the current crop of artists. Mamas and the Papas members Denny Doherty and Michelle Phillips inducted ABBA, while Paula Kelly and the Modernaires welcomed the Harptones on stage to receive their awards. The Dixie Hummingbirds bore witness to their contemporaries, the Swan Silvertones. Jimmy Merchant, Herman Santiago, and Bobby Jay of Frankie Lymon's Teenagers inducted the Four Knights, a legendary group from the 1940's.
Before the induction, artists had the opportunity to tour the museum and view the collections of costumes, scrapbooks, album covers, and awards. "It's nice to know something like this will be around long after all of us are gone," Charles said of the Hall of Fame. "I had retired from the Clovers in 1990, but we got together and said, 'let's do it one more time, and come up for this Hall of Fame show.'"
That sentiment was echoed by Jay Traynor, the first "Jay" in Jay and the Americans (Traynor sang lead on the hit "She Cried," but then left the band and was replaced by Jay Black). "Even though I didn't do all the hit records with the group, there still would be no group if it wasn't for the original four guys," Traynor said. "It's really a great honor. I like the way they're treating the groups -- whether they had a million hits or just a few major ones."