Baby Jane & the Rockabyes

Girl group Baby Jane & the Rockabyes formed in the Bronx, New York in 1958 -- according to John Clemente's exhaustive article on the Spectropop website. The original lineup comprised vocalists Estelle McEwan, Yvonne DeMunn, Paula Hutchinson and Brenda Carrow, schoolmates united in their common affection for the Chantels. Originally dubbed the DeVaurs, a moniker inspired in part by DeMunn's surname, the fledgling group soon won a local talent show, earning the chance to cut a record with the small Brooklyn label D-Tone; Hutchinson assumed lead vocal duties on the finished single, "Baby Doll," a McEwan-penned original that failed to catch on with local radio. The DeVaurs relocated to the Moon label for the 1959 follow-up, "Where Are You," which hit the Top 20 on local station WNJR; Moon owner Al Browne also recruited the group to handle backing vocals behind a then-unknown Baby Washington, appearing on four of her Neptune label singles, among them "The Bells" and "Nobody Cares." But despite the regional success of "Where Are You," the DeVaurs began to splinter as its members married and took on day jobs -- Carrow's 1961 exit prompted the addition of five-octave dynamo Madelyn Moore, and following Hutchinson's departure, the remaining group forged ahead as a trio. While recording demos for songwriter Arthur Crier, the DeVaurs worked with fellow session vocalist Yolanda Robinson, who soon signed on as a full-time member -- the reconstituted quartet would soon become one of the busiest session groups in New York City, regularly recording demos for writers including Bert Berns and the team of Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller. When Phil Spector protégés Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans scored a Top Ten pop smash in 1962 with their update of the Disney chestnut "Zip-a-Dee Doo-Da," Lieber and Stoller borrowed the formula to remake the Patti Page smash "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?" with the DeVaurs on lead -- the group was shocked when the record appeared on United Artists credited to "Baby Jane & the Rockabyes," but when it reached number 69 on the Billboard Hot 100, the new moniker was seemingly etched in stone. Except that the follow-up, the 1963 ballad "All I Want to Do Is Run," was instead credited to the Elektras, for reasons unknown. For their next single, an update of the nursery rhyme "Hickory Dickory Dock," the group was again dubbed Baby Jane & the Rockabyes, but the single was unable to recapture the success of "Doggie," failing to chart. "Get Me to the Church on Time," plucked from the musical smash My Fair Lady, soon followed, but despite tours alongside Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, the Shirelles and the Supremes, the quartet never quite caught fire and Lieber and Stoller terminated their contract. Unbeknownst to her partners, DeMunn then signed with composer and producer Ed Silvers, who renamed the group Henrietta & the Hairdooz -- despite (or, more likely, because of) yet another name change, none of their three singles for the Liberty label ("Slow Motion," "It Might as Well Be Me" and "I Love Him," all issued in 1963) charted. For their lone effort on Dimension Records, 1964's "My Heart Cries for You," the quartet was billed as the Lullabyes, and amazingly, their swan song, 1966's "Heartbreak Shop," was credited to Baby Jane & the Rockabyes, but the record flopped and early the following year, Robinson left the group. The remaining trio opted to replace her with a male vocalist, Billy Guy, but the group nevertheless dissolved for good in 1968. DeMunn and Guy later wed, in addition to performing as the Starr-Blair Affair. ~ Jason Ankeny

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