The Tor Guides

Three Degrees of paradise – not just a pop song

In Classic pop, Okategoriserade on 29 May, 2011 at 23:28

Are we in love or just friends?
Is this my beginning or is this the end?

In 1963 Fayette Pinkney, Shirley Porter and Linda Turner formed the sweet singing soul trio Three Degrees. They were soon discovered by producer and songwriter Richard Barrett who were to follow them through the years, even though their record labels would change several times.

Already in 1966 Scott left the trio and was then substituted by Sheila Ferguson who would then remain with them for 20 years, during which they epitomized the sweet and subtle soul music of their home town Philadelphia.

By 1970, they were signed to Roulette Records and released their first album Maybe. It wasn´t until 1973, when they were signed to Philadelphia International Records under Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, that their career really took off – at Gamble´s and Huff´s Philly label they would soon have their greatest success.

The first song they recorded for their new label was TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia), released in 1974, with the studio band MFSB. The song – much later covered by Dexy´s Midnight Runners – was elegantly written by Gamble and Huff and the first soul single to top the Billboard Hot 100.

Later in 1974 Three Degrees revisited the Billboard charts with their follow-up single, the very lovely When Will I see You Again, once again written by Gamble and Huff. However, the song was no immediate success when it was first presented by one of its writers.

Sheila Ferguson recalls the first time she heard it: “The song was played to me by Kenny Gamble at the piano in 1973 and I threw a tantrum. I screamed and yelled and said I would never sing it. I thought it was ridiculously insulting to be given such a simple song and that it took no talent to sing it. We did do it and several million copies later, I realized that he knew more than me.”

The song has then been covered by no others than UK ska band Bad Manners and Billy Bragg.

Since the start the trio has changed members several times; all in all twelve singers have been members of the trio. Although they were active way into the 90s, they never again reached the artistic nor the commercial heights of their 1974 single – When Will I See You Again.

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