Mickey & Sylvia

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The duo in 1956.

Mickey & Sylvia was an American R&B duo,[1] composed of Mickey Baker and Sylvia Vanderpool, who later became Sylvia Robinson. They were the first big seller for Groove Records.[2]

Mickey was a music instructor and Sylvia one of his pupils. Baker was inspired to form the group by the success of Les Paul & Mary Ford. They had a Top 20 hit with "Love Is Strange" in 1956, which sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA.[3] The duo eventually bought their own nightclub, established a publishing company, and formed their own record label. Although Mickey & Sylvia disbanded by the end of the 1950s, they continued to record together on an infrequent basis until 1965, when Mickey quit the music industry in the United States. A second studio recording of "Love Is Strange" in 1962 featured now-legendary drummer Bernard "Pretty" Purdie, who was 18, on his first paid session gig.[4][5] "Love Is Strange" would be featured (in its 1956 version) in movies like Dirty Dancing, Badlands and Casino, and would be covered many times.

The reasons the duo split are not entirely clear. Baker subsequently recorded a successful instrumental solo album, The Wildest Guitar. In the 1960s, Baker moved to France and worked with various French musicians. Baker died at his home in Montastruc-la-Conseillère, France on November 27, 2012, at the age of 87.[6]

Sylvia Robinson had a hit record in 1973 with "Pillow Talk," and was subsequently a driving force in the creation of the Sugar Hill rap label. Robinson died in 2011.[7]


Year Title Chart positions
1957 "Love Is Strange" 11 1
"There Ought To Be a Law" 47 8
"Dearest" 85
1958 "Bewildered" 57
1960 "This Is My Baby 100
"What Would I Do" 46
1961 "Lovedrops" 97
"Baby You're So Fine" 52 27


  1. ^ Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 181. ISBN 1-904041-96-5.
  2. ^ Shaw, Arnold (1978). Honkers and Shouters. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company. pp. 460–466. ISBN 0-02-061740-2.
  3. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 84. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  4. ^ "Jazz Articles: Mickey Baker: A Tough Customer Who Never Lost His Edge - By Tom Reney — Jazz Articles". Jazztimes.com. Retrieved 2015-08-17.
  5. ^ Gershuny, Diane. "Bernard Purdie: The Session Legend - DRUM! Magazine - Play Better Faster". DRUM! Magazine. Retrieved 2015-08-17.
  6. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Mickey Baker biography". allmusic.com. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  7. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Sylvia Robinson biography". allmusic.com. Retrieved January 16, 2014.

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