Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Crayon's To Perfume Girl of the Week: Shirley Matthews, my Big Town Homegirl!

Shirley Matthews may seem like a one hit wonder with her fab 'Big Town Boy' (also the name of her backing band, the fab Big Town Boys from Toronto, Ontario who released fab records like 'August 32nd' on their own)but Shirley was much more than that.
Shirley was a telephone operator!

Originally from the small town of Harrow, Ontario - a small town near Lake Erie, across from Toledo, Ohio - Shirley moved to Toronto to work for Bell Canada and resided on Jameson Avenue, in the community of Parkdale. Shirley made extra money singing at Club Blue Note in the evenings, and was eventually discovered by Bob Crewe while he was visiting Toronto. Bob took Shirley to New York where they recorded 'Big Town Boy' for Canada's Red Leaf Records in 1963 (released on Atlantic in the US)- and the song rocketed to #10 on the Canadian charts and Shirley won Female Vocalist of the Year at the Juno awards in 1964!

Her follow up 'Private Property' released in '64 charted, but the two following singles 'He Makes Me Feel So Pretty' and 'Stop The Clock'(Tamarac in Canada and Amy in the US) -filled with those wonderful and typical girl group flourishes such as claps & bells, did not fair as well.

In 1965 Shirley, also an athlete, decided to settle down, get married, raise a family and become and entrepreneur in the fitness and sports field. Sadly Shirley passed away in 2013.

As a bonus, here are the Big Town Boys!

Crayons to Perfume is coming soon to WFMU's Ichiban Soul, hosted by Glynis Ward, DJ girlgroupgirl