As someone who has had more than a passing acquaintance with cookies — the edible kind — I have to admit that a trio with that name probably caught my attention back in the day. And even though it was for different reasons, the R&B girl group was apparently also noticed by the legendary Ray Charles, because he proceeded to dismantle it. But the Cookies would rise again later, although with a different flavor.
Brooklyn-born friends Margie Hendrix, Earl-Jean McCrea, and Pat Lyles began singing together in the early 1950s, and did pretty well for a while. Their biggest record was “In Paradise,” which made it into the Top Ten in 1956, but they apparently felt that it would be a better career move to become back-up singers for Ray Charles, who would go through a lot of girls over the years. The Cookies ceased to exist as a separate group.
Within a few years, Earl-Jean was ready to move on. She joined with two new singers — Dorothy Jones and Margaret Ross — and restarted the Cookies, with a sound that was a little more pop-oriented. It was more in line with the trio’s new association with the folks at New York’s famous Brill Building, the home of rising stars like Neil Sedaka, Tony Orlando, and Carole King. The new Cookies did some backup work at first, but soon hit the charts with songs like “Chains” (which was later covered by the Beatles), “Girls Grow Up Faster Than Boys,” and the song that is most remembered, “Don’t Say Nothin’ Bad About My Baby.”
By the mid-1960s the members of the group had gone their separate ways. Earl-Jean would concentrate on a solo career for a while, charting a minor hit with “I’m Into Something Good” just ahead of the mega-selling version by Herman’s Hermits, but things stalled after that. And as with many other groups of the era, a modern version of the Cookies has shown up in ‘oldies’ shows from time to time, with various personnel.
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