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Shirley Alston (Holiday)

The aunt of vocalist Johnetta Alston, Shirley Alston (Owens) was also lead vocalist for the Shirelles, who were deemed the finest women's group ever prior to the emergence of the Supremes. Alston, Beverley Lee, Addie Harris, and Dorris Kenner all met during high school. They formed the Shirelles in 1958 in New Jersey and first recorded for Tiara. A song they had written, "I Met Him on a Sunday," wound up being leased to Decca by Florence Greenberg, the owner of Tiara and mother of their friend Mary Jane Greenberg. Later that year they joined Scepter, and there scored some huge hits, including "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," "Soldier Boy," "Dedicated to the One I Love," "Mama Said," "Big John," "Baby It's You," and "Foolish Little Girl." They had 20 songs make the R&B charts from 1960 to 1967, and seven reached the Top Ten. Amazingly, none of their huge singles ever topped the R&B list, even though "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and "Soldier Boy" were both number one pop singles. The group was also embroiled in a legal battle with Scepter from 1964 until 1967 over whether their earnings were being paid into a trust fund as previously contracted. The battle finally ended with the Shirelles free to go elsewhere, but they never recaptured the Scepter magic during stints with Mercury, Bell, and RCA. But throughout the '70s,'80s and early '90s, various editions of the Shirelles have appeared on the oldies circuit. ~ Ron Wynn
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