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Saturday, July 18, 2015

On the Town with Buddy Beaverhausen: Matt Beckoff Brings Sixties Girls to NYC's Metropolitan Room

Me & La La Brooks of the original Crystals
What an awesome afternoon delight this Saturday when three of the great girl-group divas of the 1960s appeared together at the Metropolitan Room. I met with La La Brooks in the lobby, ahead of her being onstage. I've interviewed La La and also reviewed her album from late last year. I was so happy she remembered Buddy Beaverhausen and showed such love! "Buddy Beaverhausen! I really enjoy your little sarcasms and that your blog has an edge to it," La La said to me. I can die happy now.

My friend Ron Giles and I went inside and were seated at one of the comfy booths at the back of the room. Matt Beckoff was a wonderful host to Ms Brooks (original lead singer of Phil Spector's The Crystals), Barbara Harris (of The Toys) and Margaret Ross Williams (lead singer of The Cookies). All were native New Yorkers. The Chantels' Arlene Smith was to be part of this but had to cancel over purported safety issues. Ms Smith uses a motorized wheelchair and thunderstorms were predicted (though failed to develop, gratefully, until much, much later) that could possibly spell danger. May-aybe.

with Barbara Harris and Margaret Ross Williams
What incredible true recollections were discussed by the ladies who lived through it all, however. Racism and segregation -- especially when touring in the South -- was a major focus, most of it harrowing and tragic, as well as the conditions under which the girls had to change and do their make-up and hair during that era.

Influences for this trio? Frankie Lyman and Brenda Lee were cited. Gospel music was a huge part of these women's early foundations and singing. Of course, the backstage stories were especially fabulous. The ladies talked about Phil Spector, Carole King, Neil Sedaka, Sam Cooke, Dick Clark, Little Eva, the Mob, Tony Orlando, Eydie Gorme among others.

Am I a pygmy? Is Matt a giant?
La La was, if nothing else, very outspoken. Our Ms Brooks is from Brooklyn, after all, and has the attitude and outspokenness to prove it. She referred to Darlene Love as a "sicko" (i.e., pathological liar and phony). In my Q&A with La La on this blog, I intentionally avoided asking her about Ms. Love. But Matt was fearless; he went there! "If she were here," the soft-spoken Books added tersely, "I'd tell her that to her face." Thankfully, the fellow Phil Spector alumnus wasn't present.

But La La really brought down the house when she gossiped about being on tour with Diana Ross (then of the Supremes) and how Miss Ross' diva attitude and prissiness pissed the young singer of The Crystals off. She also mentioned how today's divas, like Beyonce and Rihanna, don't know what girls in the Sixties went through, paving the way. "If it weren't for us, there wouldn't be them."

Matt, thank you so much for getting these ladies to talk. Brilliant work! We all loved hearing these amazing backstage stories. When the three women sang "Da Doo Ron Ron" at finale, it brought down the house. Can the Metropolitan Room take any more authentic girl-group power? We shall see.


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