** 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)