We’ve been friends with Jean Thomas for several years and it has been great to hear the back stories of someone that was so involved with the music scene in NYC during the 60s. And knowing someone who was a member of so many groups and who did so much recording back then has led us to discover lots of great music from the period which is so little known.
But the biggest thrill perhaps, apart from meeting this great lady, has been the story of her greatest success as leader of the Rag Dolls – Bob Crewe’s female Four Seasons.
Whilst memories are dim of those times from artists and producers who are in their 60s and 70s, Jean Thomas’ log books have been a detailed window into the recording sessions. She meticulously documented her sessions and earnings from those days in log books that span 1963 to 1970.
So far we have been able to transcribe her sessions from 1963 to 1966 and with record collectors we have identified released 45s from these sessions. In the process we have discovered (and re-united Jean with) over 100 recordings from the many hundred sessions she did. We have uncovered demos and commercials she did and collated the story behind many songs and sessions.
Now we are able to present Part 3 of her biography from the heady days of 1965 when the girl group sound reached its zenith.
The story of how Bob Crewe created one of the most iconic girl group sounds of the decade has until this time been unknown and prone to mis-information (see the Rag Dolls CD compilation at I-Tunes which is full of incorrect tracks and data). Tracey Dey was never a member of the group or Diane Renay and we are pleased to be able to capture Bob Crewe’s concept and the actual session dates. It is full of surprises re membership and back stories to the songs.
But one thing shines through and that is Jean’s consistent lead vocal. A true female Frankie Valli. Her range and pitch made her one of the few session singers capable of consistently pulling it off. She wasn’t - and remains - not totally happy with Bob Crewe’s final mixes and would have liked to do more takes….but Bob knew what he wanted to achieve and ‘Dusty’ is a s good as many Four Seasons records.
With Billboard data from the actual papers and comments from the songwriters this is the definitive story of the Rag Dolls….and also of some very rare and very good 45s from the time by other artists….plus her solo work from that year.
Jean didn’t dwell on any record she did as another week and another 45 hit the Top Ten and you had to run to stand still in terms of successful 45s as a session singer.
The session logs are now up to date to 1966 with added details of discovered 45s from the time and the bio covers several group identities as well as the Rag Dolls.
Jean’s web site is ….http://www.jeanthomas.info
And she believes their last 45 ‘Baby’s Gone’ remains one of her best ……..lost and under-rated tracks from her time as a Rag Doll.