We’ve spent the last couple of weeks wandering around Washington, DC, listening to the sound of the Presidents, and the Blackbyrds. Now it’s time to get on the pike and journey north about 60 miles to the port city of Baltimore, best known for its blue crabs, and The Wire.
Charm City is a rather odd place to focus on given that the city’s Orioles have been locked in a titanic struggle with my beloved Yankees for the AL East title, but let’s once again let music bring us all together. Diehard Yankee fans like myself and loyal O’s fans alike can all agree about the merits of this week’s featured song.
The Royalettes rose up from the streets of Baltimore in the ’60s. They recorded for Chancellor Records out of Philadelphia, and then Warner Brothers, but it was when they finally arrived at MGM that things started to happen. It was there that the group hooked up with the legendary producer Teddy Randazzo who turned them into hit makers.
You’ve probably heard the Royalettes biggest hit, but chances are you know it by one of the artists who covered it. Laura Nyro had a hit with it in 1971, and Deniece Williams had an even bigger hit with it 11 years later. It was the Royalettes however who recorded the original version of “It’s Gonna Take A Miracle” and sent it up the charts in 1965.
Randazzo, along with his composing partner Bobby Weinstein, was responsible for a string of major hits in the ’60s. They included “Goin’ Out of My Head,” and “Hurt So Bad,” both by Little Anthony and the Imperials. Randazzo, Weinstein, and Lou Stallman wrote “It’s Gonna Take A Miracle,” and Randazzo produced and arranged the record.
“It’s Gonna Take A Miracle” rose to #41 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #28 on the R&B chart. That same year Randazzo gave the Royalettes a smaller hit with “I Want To Meet Him.” He provided them with a big, fully orchestrated sound on the two MGM albums that he produced and arranged for the group. Despite all of the attention that was lavished on their records, and the positive reviews for their live shows, the Royalettes never achieved major success. The Baltimore quartet tried one more single, this one produced by Righteous Brother Bill Medley, but it didn’t go anywhere. They left MGM for Roulette Records in 1967, and broke up two years later.
If it seems like you’ve heard this story before, or one like it, you probably have. The Royalettes are one of many groups who have been lost to the haze of memory, but left the us with one of the most indelible, influential records that the popular music world has ever known.