THE FLEETWOODS

Hello,  The Fleetwoods were a pop vocal trio from Olympia, Washington.  Members included Gary Troxel, born on November 28, 1939, Gretchen Christopher, born on February 29, 1940 and Barbara Ellis, born on February 20, 1940.  The group was originally named “Two Girls and a Guy” but was changed to “The Fleetwoods” before their first chart success.

Their first big hit record was a song that was written and arranged by founding lead singer Gretchen Christopher.  She took the tape of the song to record producer Bob Reisdorff who started the Dolphin Record label to record The Fleetwoods and release their classic hit recording of “COME SOFTLY TO ME”.  On March 9, 1959 “Come Softly To Me” entered the Billboard Hot 100 and went right to the top of the chart.  On April 13, 1959 The Fleetwoods began a 4 week stay at #1, replacing Frankie Avalon’s #1 hit, “VENUS”.  The Fleetwoods enjoyed 16 weeks on the Hot 100.  They crossed over to the Billboard R&B chart and peaked at #5.  In the UK, The Fleetwoods charted the #5 record on the UK Singles Chart.  “Come Softly To Me” sold well over a million copies and the group was awarded a “Gold Record”.

Their follow-up record “GRADUATION’S HERE”, entered the chart in May of 1959 and became a Top 40 hit, peaking at #39.  The third hit record entered the Hot 100 on September, 7, 1959.  “MR. BLUE” another Fleetwoods classic became the #1 song in America on November 16, 1959, it remained at #1 for one week, and had a 20 week run on the Hot 100, the longest of any Fleetwoods single record.  “Mr. Blue” became the groups second million seller and The Fleetwoods were awarded their second “Gold Record”.

In February of 1960 the group would chart “OUTSIDE MY WINDOW”, it would peak at #28 and in May they would follow with another hit “RUNAROUND” that would climb to #23.  The Fleetwoods last Top 10 record would debut on April 1, 1961.  “TRAGEDY” would peak at #10 and stay on the Hot 100 for 12 weeks.  “(He’s) THE GREAT IMPOSTOR” would follow in September of ’61 and chart at #30.  Their next hit record would have to wait until October of 1962 a year later.  “LOVERS BY NIGHT, STRANGERS BY DAY” charted at #36.  Their final Hot 100 hit came in June of 1963.  “GOODNIGHT MY LOVE” peaked at #32 and stayed on the Hot 100 for 11 weeks.

The Fleetwoods became the first group in the world to have multiple #1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in the same year (1959).  They were inducted in to the “Vocal Group Hall of Fame” in 2006 and in to the “Doo-Wopp Hall of Fame of America” also in 2006.  In 2005 they were inducted into the Olympia High School Alumni Association Hall Of Fame (OHS Alumni) and in 1988 they were inducted into the Northwest Area Music Association (NW Music) Hall Of Fame.   Gretchen Christopher is the last member of “The Fleetwoods”, who is still active and has the rights to the group’s name.  You can check out her latest album, a 2007 Billboard Critics Pick for 10 Best Albums of the year…SWEET SIXTEEN (SUITE 16) at http://www.GoldCupMusic.com.  The Fleetwoods charted 11 hits on the Hot 100 between 1959 and 1963.  Their music is still heard on oldies radio, it has remained timeless.  They had that sound, a unique blend of pop and doo-wop.  The Fleetwoods, one of the best groups of the “Golden Era of Rock and Roll”.

Till the next time—Joe

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2 thoughts on “THE FLEETWOODS

  1. Dear Joe,
    I just googled for some info, was directed to and discovered your Blog! What a fine and accurate tribute to The Fleetwoods. The only slight mistake I noticed is the spelling of “Doo Wop Hall of Fame.” I thought like you, until I found their web page, unique spelling (2 ‘p’s), and full title which is “Doo Wopp Hall of Fame of America.” (BTW, if you’re interested, two other Hall of Fame inductions preceded that: Olympia High School Alumni Association (OHS Alumni) Hall of Fame, 2005, and Northwest Area Music Association (NW Music) Hall of Fame, 1988.

    An update you might be interested in:
    The latest Fleetwoods’ recording is “Graduation’s Here” (co-written by Gretchen Christopher who sang lead and Barbara Ellis who harmonized on the original Top 40 Hit). It appears on the autobiographical CD, GRETCHEN’S SWEET SIXTEEN (SUITE 16) – a 2007 Billboard Critics’ Pick for 10 Best Albums of the Year. Also included are “Come Softly”- a cappella version, “Time of Love”, “Come Softly To Me”, and the haunting “Blues Go Away” (first Fleetwoods solo). Sound Clips of the 16 songs (touching 6 decades) may be heard at http://www.GoldCupMusic.com

    Thank you, Joe, for Keeping the Music Alive!

    • Hi Gretchen…What a pleasure to hear from you…I will look into those changes this week, I am on the road today and this evening spinning the oldies at parties and dances. I will be adding The Fleetwoods to my GOLDEN ERA OF ROCK AND ROLL JUKEBOX AND DOO-WOP JUKEBOX THIS WEEK….I LOVE YOUR MUSIC ALWAYS HAVE. AN HONOR TO HEAR FROM YOU.
      JOE…

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