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The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss)
Born in Greenwood, Mississippi on November 23, 1939, Betty played piano and sang in church beginning at age 9. In 1957, right around her 18th birthday, she moved to Chicago to pursue a career as a singer. She found work easy enough as she recorded for a number of small labels before signing with Vee-Jay Records in 1963. At the time, the record label appeared poised to battle the labels in New York and Los Angeles on the charts as they had the 4 Seasons from 1962-64 and held the American rights to the Beatles.
Her first release, By My Side b/w Prince Of Players, was released in early 1963 but didn’t chart. Her second single, You’re No Good b/w Chained To Your Love, entered both the Pop and R&B chart on November 23rd where it stayed for 10 weeks reaching #51 on both charts. (1) (2)
Calvin Carter, the A&R musical director recalled the early sessions with Everett. “Betty came to me in 1963, and she had this magnificent voice, so I went to New York and got some tunes. I got a song called The Prince Of Players, we recorded it and nothing happened. Then I went back to New York and got a tune called You're No Good. When I first heard the tune, I selected it for Dee Clark. The song didn’t click with Clark, so I gave it to Betty Everett.”
Carter recalled this anecdote about the recording of the song. “Then we go into the studio and we're recording it, and the Dells were just sitting in on the recording date. They were sitting on the wooden platform where the string players would sit, just stomping their feet on this wooden platform to the beat of the song as it was playing back. The mikes were open and I told the engineer 'Let's do it again, and let's mike those foot sounds, 'cause it really gave it a hell of a beat.' So we did that, and boom, a hit. Betty Everett, with the Dells on feet. That's how things would happen in those days, you know, by accident. You kept the mikes open and your ears all over the place, and when anything unusual happened, you'd just tape it.” (3)
You’re No Good was successful enough to warrant another record. It was Carter who suggested Betty record another song he found on his trip to New York, The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss). Merry Clayton released the song in 1963 but it didn’t chart. Everett thought the song sounded childish and was reluctant to record it. But she trusted Carter’s direction. So, into the Vee-Jay studios she went with a trio of teenage girls, the Opals and recorded the song in late 1963.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images/Michael Ochs Archives.
The song, like her, was a mixture of vulnerability and confidence. “She was quiet, kind of bashful,” her sister, Christine Townsend said. “She was a loner, had a sweet humble spirit. And one thing I do know: She sang from her heart.” (4)
It’s In His Kiss hit the Pop and R&B charts together on February 29, 1964. (1) (2) It perched on the Pop chart at #6 for two weeks on April 11th and 17th. (5) The song rode the Cashbox R&B chart to #1 for three weeks. (6)
A misstep with her next release in mid-summer led to the fall release with Jerry Butler on their hit duet, Let It Be Me. The song topped at #5 on November 7th. (5) With two hits in the top ten in 1964, it appeared Betty Everett’s career was just taking off. But it wasn’t meant to be. There were just two more singles cut on Vee-Jay. As the label was mired in legal troubles, cash flow came to a trickle as artists on the label were leaving the fold. The label ceased operations in 1967.
For Betty, the demise meant new labels. There was ABC-Paramount where she had little success. The next stop at Uni Records produced a #26 hit on the Pop chart, There’ll Come A Time, which was released in January of 1969. (1) In the 1970s, she recorded with Fantasy Records from 1970-1974 and had a stint with United Artists in the late 70s. She also toured the US and Europe during the decade.
In the mid-1980s she moved to Beloit, Wisconsin, where she was active in the Fountain of Life and New Covenant churches, as well as with the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. In 1995 she received a Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award, and was joined on stage by her former partner Jerry Butler to sing Let It Be Me. The Boston Globe reported that Everett was nearly in tears onstage as she accepted her award. (7)
Betty’s last public appearance was on the PBS Special Doo Wop 51, a program honoring the great a capella groups of the 50s and 60s. The Independent of London, England, stated, "Partnered by her old friend Jerry Butler, she reportedly brought the house down." Her attorney, Jay B. Ross, accompanied her to the show. "She was nervous because she hadn't performed in quite a while," he stated on the VH1 website. "But once she got into it and saw how much the audience loved her, she just blossomed, and the audience just went nuts." (7)
Like many other artists of the era, she had to sue to collect back royalties from Vee-Jay. There’s no information available stating the date or the amount she recovered.
Betty Everett died on August 19, 2001 at 61 years old from an apparent heart attack at her home in Beloit, Wisconsin.
As a testament to Betty and her hit songs, a number of artists chose to cover them. For You’re No Good, Elvis Costello, Michael Bolton, Dusty Springfield and Linda Ronstadt, who rode it to #1 in 1975.
It’s In His Kiss was covered by Aretha Franklin, The Searchers, The Hollies and Cher, who sang it in the closing credits of her movie Mermaid in 1990.
Betty Everett lip-synchs The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss) on American Bandstand dated March 21, 1964.
From her Do You Believe? tour, Cher sings It's In His Kiss.
1) Whitburn, Joel, Top Pop Singles 1955-2002, Page 231.
2) Whitburn, Joel, Top R&B Singles 1942-1999, Page 139.
3) Callahan, Mike, Both Sides Now Publications, The Vee-Jay Story, Page 3, Link.
4) Janega, James, Chicago Tribune, Betty Everett, 61, Chicago R&B singer scored hit with 1964's `Shoop Shoop Song', August 22, 2001, Link.
5) Whitburn, Joel, Billboard Hot 100 Charts The Sixties.
6) Wikipedia, Betty Everett, Link.
7) Parkin, Sarah, Musician Guide, Betty Everett, Link.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images/Charlie Gillett Collection.