** This is just a short biographical summary – for the full story, check out this artist’s reviews! **

A multi-layered Motown mystery of a group, the true identity of the Darnells – who recorded just one Motown single in 1963, the Holland-Dozier-Holland team’s Phil Spector soundalike Too Hurt To Cry, Too Much In Love To Say Goodbye – still remains shrouded in secrecy. For years, it was rumoured they were really the Andantes, Motown’s legendary backing singers. Meanwhile, fans had long recognised Gladys Horton of the Marvelettes as the lead singer, with the Andantes singing backup, an attempt by HDH to launch their song on a “new” group; Gladys and bandmate Katherine Anderson Schaffner both confirmed the lead was indeed Miss Horton.

But then Motown Junkies was contacted by a John Best of Ontario, Canada, who provided a period newspaper cutting and some written statements identifying the Darnells as a pair of Canadian teenagers – Nickie Goudreau and Marilyn O’ Brien, from local group the Pharaohs – fronted by otherwise-unknown vocalist Marline Osouski of Oklahoma. The statements are full of the Pharaohs’ personal memories of coming to Hitsville and meeting some of Motown’s most famous writers and producers; the article even provided a photo of a beaming Nickie and Marilyn signing copies of the single.

This would seem pretty conclusive, except that it’s obviously Gladys Horton on the record, and that Gladys Horton herself said so. Confused, I contacted Motown directly with the new information, but despite a thorough search nothing was found in the archives (paperwork or tapes) to corroborate the Pharaohs/Marline story. The best guess – and it is just a guess – is that the Pharaohs’ backing track was an audition (whether the backing vocals were kept, or replaced by the Andantes, is still maddeningly unclear), that Marline’s lead vocal was never used, and that none of the “real” Darnells” (Nickie, Marilyn or Marline) ever received the courtesy of Motown telling them who was or wasn’t actually on “their” record. To the best of our knowledge Marline Osouski’s vocal was not retained – the only tapes of Too Hurt To Cry, Too Much In Love To Say Goodbye in the Motown archives feature the readily identifiable Gladys Horton on lead.

If anyone has any further information to add, it would be gratefully received!

Review Archive: the DARNELLS (2 items)

We have 2 reviews for the Darnells currently available here on Motown Junkies – see our archive for more details, or click a link below:

  1. Too Hurt To Cry, Too Much In Love To Say Goodbye
  2. Come On Home

10 thoughts on “Darnells”

  1. A confusing mess of a story, but it’s right that we have somewhere here on Motown Junkies to discuss it.


  2. MotownFan1962 said:

    It’s not just Gladys Horton with The Andantes. The other Marvelettes (Wanda Young, Katherine Anderson Schaffner, Georgeanna Tillman) are on “Too Hurt to Cry”, too. Ms. Young is easily identifiable singing harmony behind Ms. Horton’s lead (though I’ll admit I originally thought it was just Ms. Horton double-tracked). Ms. Tillman and Mrs. Schaffner do the low backing vocals (“Kissing her/Hurt me so”)


    • Yes, so you keep saying, and it’s undeniably a tempting idea based on the low vocals which have no Andantes comparison (though Ms Young is not “easily identifiable” or you’d have identified her, easily) – but it’s a guess, not empirical fact, no matter how many times you post it.

      In this case, despite what we might think we can hear, AFAIK everyone who was actually verifiably there – including Motown and the Marvelettes themselves – have consistently stuck to the line that this is Gladys and the Andantes (up to and including the response after a search of the tape library for the elusive non-Gladys lead vocal). Since it’s highly unlikely Katherine would have identified Gladys’ voice but not her own, or that Motown would cling to a second false Darnells story once the first one was public knowledge (really, would anyone have batted an eyelid if they’d come out and said “yeah, that’s the Marvelettes under a different name, like with the Pirates, the Vells etc”?), my best guess would be that the un-Andante-like low vocals might actually be those Canadian schoolgirls, but it really is just a complete guess.

      That brings me to my main point, really. While I enjoy your comments on the site, and your apparent ongoing attempt to guess the backing singers on every track we write about, you’ve been flat out wrong and changed your mind numerous times already; I love your enthusiasm, but unless there’s any evidence to corroborate complete guesses beyond “I think I can hear…”, bearing in mind many of the ladies in question have been known to frequent this site, and that this is probably by far the highest-profile site to discuss many of these records, it’s bordering on irresponsible to present unsubstantiated gut hunches as proven facts. Don’t ever stop guessing, or asking questions, but make it clear they’re guesses, or people will think you have the inside scoop! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Somewhere in my memory is the information that there was a Vandella on this record as well. Can anyone confirm this?


  4. Bruce Burrows said:

    My cousin was the drummer in the Pharaohs, if you would like more information, you can email me… he just recently related this story to me.. i don’t want to talk publicly, without his consent…


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