Shirley Ellis

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Shirley Ellis
Birth name Shirley Marie O'Garra
Also known as Shirley Ellis
Born (1929-01-19)19 January 1929
Bronx, New York City, NY, US
Died 5 October 2005(2005-10-05) (aged 76)
Bronx, New York City, NY, US
Genres Pop, soul
Occupations Singer
Instruments Voice
Years active 1958–1968
Labels Congress, Kapp, Columbia, Bell
Associated acts The Metronomes

Shirley Marie O'Garra[1] (Stage name: Shirley Ellis; Married Name Shirley Elliston;[2] 19 January 1929 - 5 October 2005[3]) was an American soul music singer and songwriter of West Indian origin.[4][5] She is best known for her novelty hits "The Nitty Gritty" (1963) (US #8), "The Name Game" (1964) (US #3) and "The Clapping Song" (1965) (US #8/UK #6). "The Clapping Song" sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.[6]

By 1954 she had written two songs which were recorded by The Chords.[5] Ellis was originally in the group The Metronomes and she went on to marry the lead singer, Alphonso Elliston. All her solo hits were written by her and her manager, record producer, and songwriting partner, Lincoln Chase.

Ellis had recording contracts with the Kapp Records subsidiary Congress and later Columbia and Bell Records, but retired from the music industry in 1968.

Cover versions[edit]

Cover versions of her hits have been recorded by Madeline Bell, The Belle Stars, Laura Branigan, Aaron Carter, Gary Glitter, Ricardo Ray, Pia Zadora, Southern Culture on the Skids, Gladys Knight and the Pips (a version of "The Nitty Gritty", produced by Norman Whitfield) as well as a 1980s high energy dance version of The Name Game by actor and personality "Divine" aka. Harris Glenn Milstead.[5] In addition, her song "Soul Time" was sampled by the UK band, The Go! Team for their single "Bottle Rocket".[7]

Personal life[edit]

Shirley O'Garra was born to William H. and Petra O'Garra. Her father was a native of Montserrat and her mother was born in the Bahamas.[4] Shirley had three full siblings; Joyce, Bertram and William H Jr and four half sibligs Reginald, Suzanne, Joycelyn and Berbian. O'Garra married her husband, Arnold Alphonso Elliston (professional name, Alphonso Elliston) on the 3 August 1949 in Florida.[1] It is not known if she had children.

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

  • 1964: In Action
  • 1965: The Name Game
  • 1967: Sugar, Let's Shing a Ling
  • 1995: The Very Best of Shirley Ellis
  • 2001: The Complete Congress Recordings

Singles[edit]

Year Single Chart positions[8]
US US
R&B
UK[9]
1963 "The Nitty Gritty" 8 4
1964 "(That's) What the Nitty Gritty Is" 72 14
"Shy One" 130 43
"The Name Game" 3 4
1965 "The Clapping Song (Clap Pat Clap Slap)" 8 16 6
"The Puzzle Song (A Puzzle in Song)" 78
"I Will Never Forget"
"You Better Be Good, World"
1966 "Ever See a Diver Kiss His Wife While the Bubbles Bounce About Above the Water?" 135
"Birds, Bees, Cupids and Bows"
1967 "Soul Time" 67 31
"Sugar Let’s Shing-a-Ling"
1978 "The Clapping Song" (re-release) 59
"—" denotes the single failed to chart

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Person Details for Arnold Alphonso Elliston, "Florida, Marriages, 1830-1993" —". Familysearch.org. Retrieved 2014-07-31. 
  2. ^ Whitburn, J. (2010). The Billboard book of top 40 hits. New York: Billboard Books. p. 214. ISBN 0307985121
  3. ^ "Shirley Ellis Page". Soulwalking.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-07-31. 
  4. ^ a b "United States Census, 1930, Shirley O Gara in household of William O Gara". FamilySerach.org. Retrieved 16 August 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c "Rateyourmusic.com". Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  6. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 190. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  7. ^ "diddywah.blogspot.com". Diddy Wah. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  8. ^ "Shirley Ellis US singles chart history". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-01-13. 
  9. ^ "Shirley Ellis UK chart history". chartstats.com. Archived from the original on 2013-01-19. Retrieved 2011-01-13. 

External links[edit]