Micki Harris Biography

Singer (1940–1982)
Micki Harris was a member of the 1960s R&B; singing group, The Shirelles. They were the first all-female group of the rock era to hit the top of the charts.


Micki Harris was born on January 22, 1940 in Passaic, New Jersey. She formed a high school singing group with friends that came to be called The Shirelles. After a false start at Decca records, they released "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" on Scepter and the Shirelles became the first girl group of the rock era to top the pop charts. Harris died of a heart attack during a performance in 1982.

Early Life

Singer. Addie "Micki" Harris was born January 22, 1940, in Passaic, New Jersey. Harris attended Passaic High School, where she became friends with Shirley Alston Reeves, Beverly Lee and Doris Jackson. The four girls soon found they were not only inseparable as friends but also musically cohesive. Encouraged by friends to develop their talent, the girls formed a singing group patterned after The Chantels, calling themselves The Poquellos (Spanish for "little birds"). Soon the girls began writing and rehearsing their own songs with Reeves as the lead singer.

The Poquellos wrote and performed their first song, "I Met Him on a Sunday," a cappella at a high school talent show, winning huge applause from their peers. One friend in particular loved the group so much that she convinced the girls to audition for her mother, Florence Greenberg, the head of a small record label. Greenberg was so impressed with the girls' raw talent and potential that she quickly signed on as their manager, changing their stage name from The Poquellos to The Shirelles (inspired by the lead singer's first name and The Chantels).

The first single released by Harris and her three school friends was the very first song they ever wrote and performed, "I Met Him on a Sunday." Professionally recorded and licensed under Decca Records in 1958, the song soon hit the radio and cracked the National Top 50. After two subsequent singles flopped, Decca passed on releasing any more recordings from the group and the girls were signed to Greenberg's new label, Scepter Records. Greenberg brought in a more imaginative producer named Luther Dixon to revamp the Shirelles' style. Luther's string-heavy compositions helped create the group's signature sound, which combined elements of pop and doo-wop.

Career Breakthrough

Newly released tracks in 1960 — songs such as "Dedicated to the One I Love" and "Tonight's the Night" — failed to make much of an impact on the pop charts but found a bit of success in the R&B format. Later in 1960, however, Harris and her band mates struck gold with "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. The smash single hit No. 1 on the pop charts, making the Shirelles the first all-female group of the rock era ever to hit the top spot; the song also shot to No. 1 on the British pop charts in 1961.

The mammoth success of "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" prompted a rerelease of "Dedicated to the One I Love," which broke into the Top 5 on both the American pop and R&B charts in 1961. A pair of additional singles, "Mama Said" and "Big John," did the same later in the same year.

The Shirelles continued their remarkable run of success in 1962, most notably with "Soldier Boy," which became their second pop No. 1; they also scored a Top 10 pop and R&B hit with "Baby It's You."

The Shirelles managed to score one more dual pop/R&B Top 10 hit with 1963's "Foolish Little Girl," but found it difficult to maintain their previous level of success as the British Invasion led to shifting musical tastes later in the 1960s, soon relegating pop-heavy early-1960s fare to the status of "oldies."

Though no longer chart-toppers, Harris and the Shirelles continued to tour and perform their hits before enthusiastic fans in the 1970s and 1980s. Various members went on hiatus for a few years at a time to raise young children, but Harris remained a steady presence throughout. Tragedy struck, however, when Harris suffered a massive heart attack at a performance in Atlanta, Georgia, in June 1982. Paramedics were unable to save her, and Harris died at the age of 42. In the wake of Harris' tragic death, the original Shirelles disbanded; later, different groups including various former members of the band performed under the name. But the talent and cohesion of the original quartet of high school friends would never again be matched.

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