The Escorts -- not to be confused with either the American R&B outfit of that name from the 1950s or the British band of the early '60s -- hailed from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Organized originally as the Legends by Richard Rosenberg, Richard Berg, and Richard Perry with Jim Picardi as lead singer, all of them students at the same college preparatory school (Poly Prep), they cut a record called "Zoom Zoom Zoom" that attracted the interest of Dick Jacobs, a conductor/arranger/A&R man at Coral Records -- who also happened to be the father of a classmate from the school -- and they were signed to a recording contract. By the time of their first session, however, Rodney Garrison had replaced Picardi on lead vocals. Their first four sides, "Gloria," "Seven Wonders of the World," "Gaudeamus" (which mixed Latin lyrics with accompaniment that quoted from Johannes Brahms), and "As I Love You," revealed the Escorts as an unusually talented and spirited white doo wop group, reminiscent of the Mystics but with some fascinating wrinkles to their sound. And while those sides never charted, they did get local club bookings. It was at one such booking, at the Lollipop Lounge, that they made the acquaintance of an aspiring female singer named Genya Zelkowitz, who used the nickname "Goldie." The next time the Escorts went into the studio, Garrison had departed and Zelkowitz was singing lead -- "Submarine Race Watching" was far more advanced than the Escorts' first sides, and their rendition of "Somewhere" from West Side Story showed how rich and compelling the mix of female falsetto and male doo wop accompaniment could be. They later worked and recorded for a time as Goldie & the Escorts, and Zelkowitz developed a very unusual girlish-yet-soulful approach to singing that might've carried them somewhere. But as the mid-'60s approached, the Escorts all began to move on with their lives, to college and other aspirations that -- except for Perry, who went on to become a top producer during the 1970s -- took them out of professional music. She went on to establish herself anew as the lead singer of Goldie & the Gingerbreads, who managed to attract a lot of attention, especially in England, and to a subsequent solo identity as Genya Ravan. In 2006, Crystal Ball Records released a CD combining the released and finished sides of the Escorts, Goldie & the Escorts, and Goldie & the Gingerbreads. ~ Bruce Eder

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