vocalist duo, once comprising Herb Fame (born October 1, 1942) and Francine "Peaches" Hurd Barker (April 28, 1947 – August 13, 2005). Herb has remained a constant in "Peaches & Herb" since its creation in 1966, while six consecutive women have filled the role of "Peaches."
Herb Fame (born Herbert Feemster, October 1, 1942, in Anacostia, Washington, D.C.), sang in church and neighborhood groups as a child. After graduation from high school, he worked in a local record store where he met record producer Van McCoy and was signed to Columbia subsidiary Date Records by McCoy and A&R executive Dave Kapralik. Francine "Peaches" Barker (born Francine Edna Hurd, April 28, 1947, in Washington, D.C.), using the stage name Francine Day,
started a singing trio initially dubbed The Darlettes and later renamed
The Sweet Things after a change of record label to Date Records.
Having produced two releases for the trio, McCoy decided to record
Feemster/Fame and Hurd/Day together at Kapralik's suggestion.
The resulting single, "We're in This Thing Together," was distributed
to radio stations but went nowhere for months until December 1966, when a
St. Louis disc jockey broadcast the single's B-side, a revival of the
1934 hit "Let's Fall in Love."
The new duo, christened "Peaches & Herb," had a string of
successful singles and albums over the next two years such as "Let's
Fall in Love," "Close Your Eyes," "For Your Love," and "Love Is Strange."
Despite burgeoning success and a media image as the "Sweethearts of
Soul," Barker chose to semi-retire from the duo after two years because
of the rigors of touring. Marlene Mack (aka Marlene Jenkins), who had sung on the Jaynetts' hit Sally Go 'Round the Roses and had recorded as Marlina Mars,
replaced Barker on stage, but Barker remained on all of the duo's
recordings for Date Records. During this period, the semi-retired
"Peaches" also worked as a solo artist using her married name, Francine Barker. She released three singles in total on the Columbia Records label, including "Angels in the Sky" and "Mister DJ."
Fame retired the act in 1970 when, for personal reasons, he enrolled
in the police academy of Washington, D.C. and thereafter joined the
city's police department.
Peaches & Herb lay dormant until Fame decided to re-enter the music
business in 1976. In his search for a new "Peaches," Herb again
enlisted the assistance of Van McCoy, who suggested that Linda Greene
would be suitable for the position. Fame met Greene and concurred,
thereby leading to formation of the most successful of the "Peaches
& Herb" incarnations to date.
Fame and Greene recorded seven albums altogether, including one album released only in Argentina. Their first album, Peaches & Herb, was recorded for MCA Records and produced by Van McCoy, but it generated only one charted hit, "We're Still Together." Peaches & Herb signed with MVP/Polydor and under the management of Paul J. Cohn, released 2 Hot, which went gold. Its first single was "Shake Your Groove Thing"'
which went gold and peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March
1979. The follow-up single, viewed as the album's "secret weapon" by
producer/songwriter Freddie Perren, was the triple platinum hit "Reunited." This song, evoking the 1960s Peaches & Herb hit "United," reached #1 on both the Hot 100 and the Billboard R&B chart. It was also a chart-topper in Canada. "Reunited" was nominated for a Grammy Award for Song of the Year
in 1980. Subsequent releases with Polydor produced several more hits,
including the lasting wedding staple, "I Pledge My Love." After changing
labels again to the Entertainment Company, Fame and Greene released
their seventh album
in 1983. Scoring only one minor hit, Greene and Fame decided to make no
more albums and retired their partnership. Once again, Fame returned to
law enforcement and joined the U.S. Marshals Service in 1986 as a deputized court security officer at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
Greene returned to her family and, together with her husband Stephen
Tavani, went on to release three gospel albums and start the charity WOW
(Winning Our World).
While remaining employed at the court, Fame again revived the brand
in 1990. For the fourth "Peaches" he chose Patrice Hawthorne, fresh from
television exposure on the Natalie Cole-hosted talent show "Big Break." The duo appeared infrequently in concerts, and did not release any recordings. Hawthorne remains a Philadelphia bandleader of her own orchestra, CTO Soho.
Due to unpaid royalties,
Fame's financial state was far from wealthy despite years of hits and
selling nine million records with Greene. Thus, in 2001, Fame and Greene
hired attorneys Oren Warshavsky and Steven Ames Brown through Artists
Rights Enforcement Corporation. The attorneys brought a lawsuit against
MVP Records, then headed by Christine Perren. Perren's testimony at
trial revealed a series of contradictions in MVP's defense, with the
result that Fame and Greene received royalties, income, and a
reaffirmation of their artists' rights. Those rights have since been
Having financial security, Fame would then have been able to leave
the court and focus solely on his music career. Instead, he banked
significant funds and continued enjoying the work. A fifth "Peaches," Wanda Makle, subsequently performed with Fame in weekend appearances, and in 2008 they were reported to be planning a recording together. Those plans dissolved, and instead Makle was ultimately dropped in favor of the sixth "Peaches," Meritxell Negre from Barcelona, Spain.
Negre, who was introduced to Fame by known producer Bill Davis, is
the first-ever non-black "Peaches" and third recording artist to
co-record a Peaches and Herb album.
Together, Fame and Negre recorded "Colors of Love," the first album
from Peaches & Herb since 1983, making her only the third recording
artist to co-record a Peaches & Herb album. Combined with Fame’s
classic, zesty tenor flair, Negre’s soulful, alto-soprano range
seamlessly replaces Linda Greene 25 years after the Peaches & Herb
album “Remember.” "Colors of Love" was released in May 2009 by Imagen Records, approximately three months after Negre's stage debut as "Peaches."
The disco song "Shake Your Groove Thing" has featured prominently in many films such as An Extremely Goofy Movie, Monster, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Connie and Carla and Marock, as well as in an advertisement campaign by Intel in the late 1990s. The song was covered by Alvin and the Chipmunks with Drew Seeley for their album Undeniable, and again with the Chipettes on the soundtrack for Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. Also, the cast of That '70s Show sang it in the episode "That '70s Musical".
In June 2009, rock band Faith No More opened their set at Brixton Academy with their own cover of "Reunited" the song alluding to the band's own eleven year break up and subsequent reunion. They subsequently did the same for their headlining slot at Download Festival on June 12.