Remembering the Adorable Clingers!
…. and Peggy Clingers’ sad tale from Boulder, Colorado
I once owned a single by a group of which I new exactly nothing – “Shoop Shoop De Doop Rama Lama Ding Dong Yeah Yeah Yeah” – I am certain I picked it up due to the “yeah, yeah, yeah” reference along with the possible British Invasion novelty connection and certainly due to appearing on Vee Jay’s Tollie Label.
The Clinger sisters’ story begins in their birthplace in their hometown of Orem, Utah – four daughters born into a Mormon family with an age span of six years, singing together for the first time in 1956 when Peggy (age 8), Melody (age 10) , Debra (age 4) and Patsy (age 6) kicked off their musical career performing locally covering King Sisters and McGuire Sisters songs.
The girls are often cited as “the first rock girl group” and seeing how they were performing as early as 1956 – this just might get them the qualification for the title.
Other Clinger siblings would join in along the way but the group was always anchored by Peggy, Debbie, Melody and Patsy – sometimes joined by Leesa and Jeanette Clinger.
The Clinger family would relocate to Brea, California located southeast of Los Angeles, the move, no doubt, providing greater access to the entertainment world. The Clinger Sisters first big break came when they were invited to appear on the Andy Williams television show which led directly to becoming ‘regulars’ on the Danny Kaye TV show starting in 1963, and remaining with him for three seasons. During that time they released one long play recording singing along with Kaye and a few tracks.
Interestingly Brea, California’s Wikipedia page citing “notable people” does list vocalist Norma Zimmer of the Lawrence Welk Show, but no mention of the Clingers. For that matter, Orem, Utah’s listing of “notables” includes a couple of “So You Think You Can Dance” finalists (gag me with a spoon) but excludes the Clingers who performed for 4 decades! Marie Osmond is also listed – having moved to Orem at some point – I can accept Marie.
From there they landed many television appearances performing or singing along with the Smothers Brothers, Glen Campbell and accompanying Bob Hope for a couple of his ‘entertaining the troops’ programs. The Cash Box article below from August of 1964 attests to a busy summer touring schedule of State fairs including Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and New York.
In 1967 it appears that the Clinger Sisters had signed a contract with Terry Melcher’s Equinox Records and even had a song scheduled for release “Quick, Close the Door Before They Find Us” but I don’t believe it saw the light of day.
Starting in 1964 the sisters would release a series of recordings (five total) placing them firmly within the ‘girl group’ genre of the times. I have included a video below of their 1964 appearance and interview on the TV show “Hollywood A-Go-Go” back in 1964. The sisters were simply darling and worked their harmonies extremely well.
Many sources site Patsy as being an original member of the group but often Leesa Clinger is referenced instead. Not sure exactly who Leesa was but she does not appear to be with the later 1969 “Clingers” lineup reference below. I have an idea that “Lessa” may have been the oldest sister “Melody”.
Clinger Punk and Beyond
In the 1969 the sisters took a dramatic turn in musical direction, working under the influence of the always adventurous and extreme Kim Fowley. The results were definite Fowley influenced – a single on Columbia Records which has become a much sought-after and difficult-to-find ‘garage-punk’ classic “45 – “Gonna Have A Good Time b/w And Now You Know Me”. I’ve included a live appearance video below – sound quality not the best but you can enjoy a good version on YouTube.
The Clingers would release one single on the Forward label in 1969 which contains a very nice rendition of the Beatles’ “Blackbird” – with great sister harmony!.
Their final U.S. release as a foursome would come in 1970 on MGM Records. From there the girls would pretty much go their separate ways, with Debbie, and Peggy sticking pretty much to the world of music and entertainment.
Clinger Sisters Scrap Book
Clingers Documentary DVD and Feature In “Ugly Things” Magazine Spring/Summer Issue 2015
Visit the Clinger Sisters Web Site
(Click On Image)
Mattel Living Dolls and the Rock Flowers
Debra had an interesting career – quite wholesome it appears – A Few years after the Clingers parted, Debra would join a trio called “Rock Flowers”. Other members were Rindy Dunn and Ardie Tillman. The “Rock Flowers” were interesting as their persona was picked up on by Mattel Toy Makers.
Not sure which concept came first, but Mattel Toys would create an entire line of dolls which closely approached the appearance of the rock group members. When you explore the world of the Mattel version you will see there were more than three dolls created. In the Mattel world – Ardie became “Rosemary”. Rindy was aligned with “Heather” and Debra would become “Lilac” more or less.
The three Rock Flowers – with Rindy being replaced by Jacquie Wiseman, would back Tom Jones on his 1972 U.S. tour. The recordings on the “Wheel” label shown below were actually distributed exclusively with the Mattel dolls and accessories. A complete CD set was released with an 8 page booklet by Mattel as well in 2018.
Debra and The Cattanooga Cats
Debra Clingers’ involvement with the 1969-1970 television program was to be one of the two voices behind the scenes along with Michael Lloyd. This was a Mike Curb production. The program was intended to provide competition for the children’s TV program by Hanna/Barbera “The Banana Splits”. Debra’s sister Peggy contributed to song writing for the series as well.
Debra with Kaptain Kool and the Kongs
Debra would next move onto another creation created by Sid and Marty Krofft titled “The Krofft Supershow” in 1976 running for three seasons. The “Kongs” Michael Lembeck (Kaptain Kool), Debra Clinger (Superchick), Mickey McMeel (Turkey) Louise DuArt (Nashville) and for the first season only Bert Sommer (Flatbush).
The Kongs would appear for the first two seasons and then would be replaced by England’s Bay City Rollers in season three.
Debra Clinger in “Midnight Madness”
This 1980 film would feature Michael J. Fox making his motion picture debut. The plot was a bit wacky with five teams to compete in “The Great All Nighter” – Debra Clinger is “Laura” of the “Yellow Team”. It would be five more years before Fox would star in “Back to the Future” and two years before he would be cast in “Family Ties” – a TV series that ran for eight seasons.
Debra on “American Girls” TV Show
This was a short lived series which lasted for only a part of one season. Eleven installments were filmed but only six made it onto screen before it was cancelled. The show depicted to television journalists “Rebecca Tomkins” portrayed by Prisclla Barnes and “Amy Waddell” by Debra Clinger.
After the show was cancelled, Priscilla would move on to take Suzanne Somers place on “Three’s Company” in 1981 as “Terri Alden”.
Peggy Clinger – Colorado Connection
Now we come to Peggy Clinger and her sad story. Peggy – as can be seen from the discography below – was a talented and versatile composer and singer.
Peggy and Johnny Cymbal
Johnny Cymbal of “Mr. Bass Man” fame and later of “Cinnamon” fame as “Derek”, met and fell in love with Peggy Clinger in the late 1960’s. The two would team up on many compositions (below) working initially for the Chelsea Record label.
Cymbal was born in Scotland in 1945 John Hendry Blair.
At some point during their relationship, Peggy would find her way to the Colorado town of Boulder, most likely in 1972 or possibly 1973. The pair would not only compose but traveled together performing around the U.S. At some point Cymbal must have come through or spent time in Boulder to visit or be with Peggy – and in 1973 he released a single “Boulder Colorado” under his last name “Cymbal”. Peggy is listed as the co-arranger on this single.
Sadly, Peggy Clinger would pass away as the result of a drug overdose while residing in her Boulder home. Peggy’s death sent Cymbal into the lowest point of his life. The couple had broken up before her death but this didn’t lessen the impact on Johnny. He, in turn, went into a deep depression and also fell into the control of drug addiction.
He eventually emerged – cured – and turned to Christianity and eventually back into music in the Nashville scene. He still had his struggles, divorcing twice during his Nashville years – and then suffering a fatal heart attack at age 48.
I can only imagine the sadness that the Clinger family experienced at the loss of sister Debbie.
The Clinger Sisters Selected Discography
The Clinger Sisters’ first several singles (three on Tollie) were definite shots at the ‘girl group’ sound as well as a little take-off on the arrival of the Beatles on their first 45.
LP – Peter Pan Records – Danny Kaye with The Clinger Sisters,” etc. – Released 1963
45 – Tollie 9020 – Shoop Shoop De Doop Rama Lama Ding Dong Yeah Yeah Yeah b/w The Lipstick Song – Released August, 1964
45 – Tollie 9035 – Golly Mom b/w Puppet – Released November, 1964
45 – Tollie 9038 – What Can I Give Him b/w Jingle Dingle Do – Released December, 1964
45 – Jo-Bee 1001 – How About Him b/w Lean Back Baby – Released 1965
45 – Jo-Bee 1002 – Children Laughing b/w Bread and Butter – Released 1965
45 – Columbia 4-44766 – Gonna Have A Good Time b/w And Now You Know Me – Released January, 1969
45 – Forward 107 – Something Here In My Heart b/w Blackbird – Released July, 1969
45 – MGM K 14110 – Round Round Round b/w Mean It – Released February, 1970
Peggy Clinger Discography
45 – Marina 502 – The Mookie Mookie Man b/w The Pool Shooter – with Johnny Cymbal – Released September, 1971
45 – Chelsea 78-0106 – God Bless You Rock ‘n Roll b/w Forever and Ever – with Johnny Cymbal – Released October, 1972
45 – Chelsea 78-0112 – The Dying River b/w A Little Bit No, A Little Bit Yes – with Johnny Cymbal – Released November, 1973
LP – Chelsea 1002 – Cymbal and Clinger – Released 1972
45 – Forward 123 – Cattanooga Cats – Mother May I/Johnny Johnny Jump Up – Released September, 1969
(Peggy Clinger co-wrote this along with her sister Debra while still together as the Clinger’s and provided vocals)
45 – Forward 142 – Merry-Go-Round b/w Country Carnival – Released 1970 – vocals in-part by Debra Clinger
45 – MGM K-14166 – Bill Cowsill – Wish I Could Say the Same About You – Released September, 1970
45 – American International 151 Judd Hamilton – Rules b/w Someday Morning – Released 1970
Judd Hamilton began his musical life working for the Ventures and then became a member and lead vocalist for the studio group “The T-Bones” of “No Matter What Shape” fame. His brother was Dan Hamilton of “Hamilton, Frank & Reynolds”. Dan Hamilton would also join the T-Bones with Judd in a second line-up.
45 – American International 163 – Judd Hamilton – Sunshine Man – Released 1970
45 – Bell 45,260 – David Cassidy – Rock Me Baby – Charted Number 38 Hot 100 – co-writer with Johnny Cymbal – Released August, 1972
45 – His Master’s Voice – Johnny Farnham (Australia) – Rock Me Baby – Released September, 1972
45 – Bell 45,336 – The Partridge Family – Something’s Wrong – co-writer Peggy Clinger – Released March, 1973
45 – A&M 1605 – Keith Hampshire (Canada) – Forever and Ever (Baby I’m Gonna Be Yours) Released 1974
45 – MCA 40273 – Cher – I Hate To Sleep Alone – composed by Peggy Clinger – Released July, 1974
Debra Clinger Discography
The Rock Flowers were Debra Clinger with Rindy Dunn and Ardie Tillman
45 – Wheel 32-0032 – Number Wonderful b/w Mother You, Smother You – “A” Side Charted Number 95 Hot 100 Charts – Released October, 1971
45 – RCA Germany 74-16143 – Number Wonderful b/w Mother You, Smother You – Released 1972
45 – RCA Brazil WHS-4001 – Number Wonderful b/w Mother You, Smother You – Released 1972
45 – Wheel 32-0033 – You Shouldn’t Have Set My Soul On Fire b/w Sunday Dreaming – Released March, 1972
45 – Wheel 32-0037 – See No Evil b/w Image Of You – Released 1972
45 – Wheel 32-0039 – Double Scoop – Released 1972 (Stereo/Mono Shown)
Composers Johnny Cymbal and Peggy Clinger
45 – Wheel 32-0042 – Put A Little Love Away b/w Always Call Me Up When You’re Lonely – Released 1973
LP – Wheel 1001 – “Rock Flowers” – Released 1971
LP – Wheel 1002 – Naturally – Released 1972
LP – Peter Pan 8221 – Kaptain Kool and the Kong’s – Released 1978
LP – Epic JE 35447 – Kaptain Kool and the Kongs – Released 1978 (Promo)
LP – Epic Canada 35477 – Kaptain Kool and the Kongs – Released 1978
45 – Epic 8-50627 – And I Never Dreamed b/w Crazy Girl – Released 1978
CD – Area 251 – Rock Flowers In Bloom 1971-1973
(This was a special project in 2018 which conducted a campaign to raise funds to make it happen – Not sure if this CD and booklet was ever released)
The Clinger Sisters Shoop Shoop De Doop Rama Lama Ding Dong Yeah Yeah Yeah – 1964
The Clingers “Gonna Have A Good Time Tonight” – 1969