erb Fame began singing at the age of seven, in a Washington, D.C., church choir. After high school, he got a job in a hometown record shop, frequented by music industry personnel. One day, he spotted writer-producer Van McCoy in the store, and decided that this was his big chance to break into show business. He cornered Van, and offered a vocal audition right on the spot. Van then left the store -- and returned one week later, contract in hand.
Herb was signed to Date Records, but after his first single flopped, things looked a little shaky. Then Date executive Dave Kapralik hit upon the plan of teaming Herb with Francine Day, who was one-third of a struggling girl group called the Sweet Things.
The new duo was dubbed Peaches and Herb, and billed by their record company as "The Sweethearts of Soul." Many got the impression that the two were childhood lovers, or at least were going steady. However, their musical romance was just as phony as their stage name.
"We're good friends," said Herb, in 1967. "A lot of our fan mail asks if we're married, and so many people want to know if we've 'set the date.' I guess to our fans we're sweethearts. That's our image, so I guess we've got to uphold it."
And uphold it they did, through five Top 40 hits in a row in 1967: "Let's Fall in Love," "Close Your Eyes," "For Your Love," "Love Is Strange," and "Two Little Kids." However, later Peaches and Herb records did not do as well.
By 1971, Francine had had enough of show biz. She broke up the act, and enrolled in a self-improvement course, mainly to lose weight. "I want to settle down and get married," she said, "and become a songwriter." Herb returned to Washington, D.C., and found work as a policeman.
Then there was nothing, for five years.
Finally, Herb decided he had to find out if it was possible for him to make a comeback. He contacted Van again, who suggested reviving the team with a new "Peaches." They held extensive auditions, and then picked Linda Greene, a young model who lived only a couple of blocks from Herb. The two rehearsed, and in January 1977, broke in their act in small clubs. At the same time, Van lined up a record deal, and in September 1977, the new duet made its official debut on MCA Records.
Herb and Linda were crushed, but unwilling to give up. They next contacted Freddie Perren, a former pianist who was then starting his own record company. Freddie agreed to make Peaches and Herb's next effort the first release on his new Polydor/MVP label.
That turned out to be "Shake Your Groove Thing," issued in mid-December 1978. Within three months, it was a million-seller, and the most famous track on Peaches and Herb's album, 2 Hot. "But it was a disco number," said Herb, "and we didn't want to get typecast as a disco group. So we decided to make our next release something totally different. We went for an R&B ballad, and that was 'Reunited.'"
"That was the ultimate song on the album for me," said Linda. "It was overwhelming just to listen to the words of that song. It was not written about myself and Herb as a couple's relationship. Dino Fekaris and Freddie wrote it for the people who could truly relate to it.
"I remember, on one promotion tour I got to visit a little elementary school. These kids were in first, second and third grades, and when I asked them what their favorite song was, they all shouted 'Reunited.' A lot of kids said, 'That song was played when my Mommy and Daddy got back together,' and it just made me feel so good." Incidentally, Linda was often asked how long it took her to assemble her multi-beaded hairdo. The answer: up to twelve hours. The effect lasted for about two months, and then had to be all torn down and rebuilt.
"Reunited" spent four weeks at number one, peaking in May of 1979. In all, it sold more than three million copies, and remained a best-seller for nearly six months. In 1980, the duo had another Top 20 hit, "I Pledge My Love," which has been widely used as a wedding march, and in 1982, "Bluer Than Blue" became yet another hit. In 1981, Peaches & Herb made history by being on the Bob Hope Special from Mainland China, making them the first Black entertainers to perform in the communist country.
In July 1992, Herb, now with new Peaches Patrice Hawthorne, "Reunited" with writer/producer/arranger Perren, for a blend of their signature duet ballads and hot dance material with "a little groove on the side."
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