Soul Serenade: Doris Troy, “Just One Look”
Yesterday I wrote about the new splendid new Hollies DVD. This week’s featured song is very much connected to the Hollies. In 1964 their cover of Doris Troy’s “Just One Look” made it all the way to #2 on the UK charts.
The Hollies were hardly the only artists to cover Troy’s smash hit. There were also versions by Linda Ronstadt, Bryan Ferry, Anne Murray, and Harry Nilsson.
The original version of “Just One Look” was co-written by Troy (under the name Doris Payne) and released by Atlantic Records in 1963. How she got to Atlantic Records is a subject of some dispute. Some say that Troy was introduced to Atlantic by James Brown who saw her performing in a club. There is another account in which she took her demo to Sue Records first, and when they didn’t show any interest she brought it to Atlantic’s Jerry Wexler.
In any event, the single peaked at #10 on the US singles chart. Troy had one more hit with “Whatcha Gonna Do About It,” which hit the UK charts in 1964, and was covered by several British groups including the Small Faces. Her career was hardly over however.
Troy, who had worked with Dionne Warwick, Cissy Houston, the Drifters, and Solomon Burke prior to hitting it with “Just One Look,” parlayed her success into gigs with the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Humble Pie, Dusty Springfield, Nick Drake, George Harrison, and others. In fact she was signed to Apple Records in 1969. While there she released an album that she co-produced with Harrison.
Mama, I Want To Sing was a musical co-written by Troy and her sister, New York radio personality Vy Higginson, about Troy’s life. It ran for 1,500 performances at the Hecksher Theater in Harlem with Troy playing her own mother Geraldine in the production. Both Deniece Williams and Chaka Khan appeared in the London production, and Patti LaBelle was featured in the 2009 film version of the musical.
Doris Troy died of emphysema in 2004. She was 67 years-old at the time of her death.