The Fabulous Filtzers!
This from Paris Sisters’ cousin Diane Leigh Davison March 17th, 2020:
“Their stage name came from what we thought was the maiden name of their paternal grandmother, and my 2xGG, Lizzie Filtzer. But I recently discovered that Lizzie actually just started using Paris as her maiden name sometime early in her marriage for some unknown reason—it was totally a fabrication.”
On vinyl – before there were Angels, before there were Ronettes, before there were Chantels, before there were Shirelles…… There were the Filtzer Sisters!
The Filtzers grew up in the San Francisco area and were destined early on to be performers. In the beginning they thought of themselves as dancers first and singers second. In an interview, Sherrell Filtzer (the middle sister) recalls that their journey in entertainment didn’t afford them any time for the normal growing up experiences.
They weren’t driven by their parents, who Sherrell described as “normal parents”. It is rather difficult to discover when the trio became “The Paris Sisters” – but it was early. Sometime in 1953 they came to the attention of a local California independent record label out of San Francisco – “Cavalier” where the sisters would cut four tracks. One single had a Christmas theme and seems to be lost to time. The second Cavalier 828 has the Paris Sisters working with Jimmy Diamond and His Sparkling Music. Diamond provided instrumentation for several artists appearing on Cavalier.
The “Zorch/Bully” recording was also released on a 45 format with red wax.
The three Paris Sisters were Albeth (oldest born in 1935, Sherrell born in 1940 and Priscilla born in 1941. The year after cutting the Cavaliers tracks, the Paris Sisters would leave (thing ditch) school early and immediately head to a local venue where the Andrew Sisters were appearing. The girls considered the Andrews their heroes and wanted to mold themselves into the same style of singing.
After several times attending the Andrews’ performances, the sisters were finally noticed – and not just noticed but asked to come up on stage. Most likely this led to the signing of the Paris Sisters to the Decca record label – home to the Andrews. The year was 1954.
There was no set ‘lead singer’ and the Paris’ sound was definitely “Andrews” all the way – bouncy – spunky and fun. Take a listen to their first “Ooh La La” released in November, 1954 and then “Huckleberry Pie” from April of the following year.
Ooh La La
Their voices in those early years conjured up mature female singers – certainly not the 15 and 16 year old girls which Priscilla and Sherell were at the time. The older Albeth took responsibility for her younger sisters when they were on the road.
There would be a total of eight releases on Decca – The girls would move over to Imperial records in late 1957 and early 1958 for a couple of singles. The trio would continue on without a label for a few years until early 1961 when they would come into contact with a couple of California boys and everything would change for the Paris Sisters.
Lester Sill and Phil Spector were a curious mix – Sill, the veteran music man who cut his teeth in R&B music with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Modern Records, Charles Brown, Hadda Brooks, Big Mama Thornton and so many more.
Phil Spector was 20 years younger and was coming off his monster hit with his teenage group “The Teddy Bears” and “To Know Him Is To Love Him” on the Dore record label. The group, which included Marshall Leib, Harvey Goldstein, lead vocalist Annette Kleinbard along with Phil Spector and drummer Sandy Nelson.
Annette was still in high school when the song was recorded. When the Teddy Bears took the road – Goldstein had departed and Nelson was tied up doing session work so they continued on as a trio. They moved over to Imperial Records where Phil may have learned about the Paris Sisters – who knows”? There they had only minor success barely denting the Hot 100 with a couple of forgotten tracks.
Annette by the way would go onto to become Carol Connors and would co-write one of the themes from the first “Rocky” motion picture – “Gonna Fly Now”. She also co-wrote “Hey Little Cobra” by the Ripchords and “With You I’m Born Again” by Billy Preston & Syreeta – a number 4 Hot 100 hit in 1979/80,
Carol is a next door neighbor to one of my in-laws residing out in southern California.
Spector started off the Paris Sisters with “Be My Boy” backed wth “I’ll Be Crying Tomorrow”. This was a major departure for the girls but a logical step for Spector moving from the Teddy Bears into a logical next step. After much experimenting with each of the girls’ voices, Phil focused on the youngest member, softening her delivery adding a lilting background by the sisters.
It had “Teddy Bears” written all over it. The song achieved a respectable number 56.
Be My Boy
Then came the big one!
For the second Paris Gregmark release Brill Building Phil called on Brill Building writers Barry Mann and Larry Kolber. Mann’s credentials were impeccable. Kolber was no slouch having penned “Forget Me Not” by the Kalin Twins (1958), and would later write “Patches” (Clarence Carter).
(Kolber would pen “Go Fight For Her” for Colorado’s Astronauts in 1964.)
“I Love How You Love Me” was a gem and the crowning achievement moment for the beautiful Paris Sisters. The song reached number five in the nation and sold a million copies very quickly. There would be two additional Gregmark chart appearances first with Carol King and Gerry Goffin’s “He Knows I Love Him Too Much” (number 34) and then a Mann Kolber follow up “Let Me Be the One” (number 87).
Below is the flip side to “Let Me Be The One” – “What Am I To Do”. I would have bought it!
The Paris Sisters made live appearances on the Red Skelton Show, Rowan and Martin, appeared with George Bunrs, and Elvis Presley and performed on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand.
There would be one final attempt by Spector for the Paris Sisters “Yes, I Love You” backed by “Once Upon a While Ago” both written by Phil. But by then, Phil had already moved on with Lester Sill forming Philles Records having already released 10 45’s and plunging into the world of hit singles and the “Wall of Sound”.
There was a rumor of a Paris Sisters long play on Gregmark but Sherrell says that although they did work on it, the project just seemed to vanish.
The Paris Sisters would achieve one final appearance on the Hot 100 – the Bobby Darin composition “Dream Lover” which fizzled out at number 91. I love the track – Priscilla on lead was simply captivating and the well produced single. As the girls moved to Mercury and then Reprise – Priscilla began to assert herself and started composing many of their songs.
If fame slipped away – it wasn’t due to not trying – several of their final songs were composed by proven composers including Carole King with Gerry Goffin, Doc Pomus and Shuman, Burt Bacharach and Hal David and David Gates. But the days of the “soft sound” for the girls had come and gone.
Albeth and Sherell moved on from music eventually. Priscilla couldn’t let go. She had music in her veins and soul. She would compose many songs and would continue on as a solo recording a few albums but never finding the magic of “I Love How You Love Me”. Priscilla had been the young one – who didn’t even sing when the group started off – but would prance around in the background on the stage.
The sisters remained close through their lives. They may have disagreed on some things but they always respected and enjoyed one another. Just watch the final segment of the video above and look at the unity of the Paris Sisters delivering “Dream Lover”.
Sherrell worked for many years as the personal assistant to Bob Barker on “The Price Is Right”. She returned to singing, hiring background singers and performing in Las Vegas for nearly a decade until her retirement.
Bob Barker – Sherrell Paris
Priscilla would eventually move to Paris, France. She attempted once to join her Albeth and Sherell for a reunion concert but was forced to cancel at the last minute due to exhaustion. Priscilla died in 2004 as the result of a fall. She was 59 years old. Albeth passed away in 2014 after enjoying a productive life, the latter part residing in Palm Springs, California. She was 79.
Radio Station 1050 CHUM Toronto – September 9th, 1957
The earliest chart appearance I could locate for the Paris Sisters with a number 37 ranking for “Tell Me More” on Imperial Records
KIMN Denver – May 17th, 1961
This is the first appearance of a Paris Sisters recording on KIMN with “Be My Boy” – which peaked this week at number 23.
KIMN Denver October 11th, 1961
“I Love How You Love Me” would peak in Denver at number 3 – KIMN did not get the spelling correct for the trio.
Paris Sisters Discography
45 – Decca -9-29372 – Ooh La La/Whose Arms Are You Missing – November, 1954
45 – Decca 9-29527 – His and Hers/Truly – December, 1954
45 – Decca 9-29574 – The “Know” How/I Wanna – January, 1955
45 – Decca 9-29488 – Huckleberry Pie/Baby, Honey, Baby – April, 1955
45 – Decca 9-29744 – Lover Boy/Oh Yes You Do – November, 1955
45 – Decca 9-29891 – I Love You Dear (Year Round Love)/Mistaken – May, 1956
45 – Decca 9-29970 – Daughter Daughter!/So Much – So Very Much – May, 1956
45 – Imperial X5465 – (Don’t Stop, Don’t Stop) Tell Me More/Old Enough To Cry- September, 1957
45 – Imperial X5487 – Someday/My Original Love – January, 1958
45 – Decca 9-30554 – Mind Reader/Don’t Tell Anybody – February, 1958
45 – Gregmark 2 – Be My Boy/I’ll Be Crying Tomorrow – March, 1961 – Charted Number 56 Hot 100
45 – Gregmark 6 – I Love How You Love Me/All Through the Night – January, 1962 – Charted Number 5 Hot 100
45 – Gregmark 10 – He Knows I Love Him Too Much/A Lonely Girl’s Prayer – January, 1962 – Charted Number 34 Hot 100
45 – Gregmark 12 – Let Me Be the One/What Am I To Do – Charted Number 87 Hot 100 – April, 1962
45 – Gregmark 13 – Yes I Love You/Once Upon a While Ago – November, 1962
45 – MGM K13236 – Dream Lover/Lonely Girl – Charted Number 91 – Hot 100 – May, 1964
45 – Mercury 72320 – When I Fall In Love/Once Upon A Time – Charted Number 127 – August, 1964
45 – Mercury 72468 – Why Do I Take It From You/Always Waitin’ – August, 1965
45 – Reprise 0440 – Sincerely/Too Good To Be True – February, 1966
45 – Reprise 0472 – I’m Me/You – May, 1966
45 – Reprise 0511 – My Good Friend/It’s My Party – September, 1966
45 – Reprise 0548 – Some Of Your Lovin’/Long After Tonight Is All Over – January, 1967
By Priscilla Paris
45 – York 405 – He Noticed Me/Help Me – June, 1967
By Priscilla Paris
45 – York 409 – By The Time I Get To Phoenix/Me Owns the World – January, 1968
45 – Capitol 2081 – Greener Days/Golden Days – January, 1968
45 – GNP Crescendo 410 – The Ugliest Girl In Town/Stand Naked Clown – August, 1968
(This would be the final Paris Sisters 45)
LP – Unifilms 505 – The Glass House – 1966
LP – Sidewalk DT 5906 – The Golden Hits of the Paris Sisters – 1967
LP – Reprise RS 6259 – The Paris Sisters Sing Everything Under The Sun – 1967
LP – Happy Tiger HT 1002 – Priscilla Loves Billy – 1967
LP – York 4005 – Priscilla Sings Herself – 1967
LP – Out of Town OTD 8003 – Love Is…. – 1978