Welcome to Old Night at Studio 54


maandag 21 april 2008

Fantasia featuring Peggy Santiglia

Peggy Santiglia was born May 4, 1944 in New Jersey. A born performer, she discovered her love of singing at an early age. Peggy wrote and performed with two school friends as The Delicates while in junior high school. During sock hops she would often see a rival girl group comprised of sisters Barbara (Bibs) and Phyllis (Jiggs) Allbut and Linda Jansen, local teens known as The Starlets. They met, hit it off, and a unique sound emerged as Jiggs, Bibs, and Peggy began to record together as background singers for notables such as Neil Diamond, Jackie Wilson Anthony Newley, Bob Gaudio and Frankie Valli of The Four Seasons, Quincy Jones, Don Costa, Alan Lorber, Lee Holdridge, Artie Butler Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Patty Duke, Lou Christie and Frank Sinatra, and countless others.
Jiggs, Bibs and Linda formed the Blue Angels and began to record. They recorded the standard "P.S. I Love You" on the local Astro label. It stalled before entering the national charts, but the persistent girls were soon back, this time at Caprice Records with a demo of another oldie, "Till." The beautifully crafted single, backed with "A Moment Ago," soared to a lofty position on the Billboard Pop Charts in 1961. With a number 14 hit, the Blue Angels were on a roll.
The follow-up was the equally strong, "Cry Baby Cry," which landed at number 38 the following year, but despite two top forty hits to their name, The Blue Angels star soon burned out. The departure of Linda, who up to this point had been lead singer, coincided with a chart slump. Peggy then joined, first fulfilling her commitment to United Artists, and to Don Costa, arranger-producer of The Delicates recordings including "Black and White Thunderbird," "The Kiss" and "Too Young To Date." The girls in the early 1960's were finishing high school, recording and preparing their act for live performances when "My Boyfriend's Back" hit---and hit big. Jiggs and Bibs called Peggy, who was vacationing with her parents, to say "Come back now, it's a giant hit!" Why were they so excited? Why was this so different? The Angels had after all, hit high on the charts with "'Til" and "Cry Baby Cry," but this time something was quite different. The Angels received nationwide attention for the sensational million selling record "My Boyfriend's Back" as definitely one of the more graphic teenage statements of that time. The record took the industry by storm and set a style, pace and sound later emulated by up and coming female groups.
A series of well crafted singles were released over the next two years but none could replicate the success of "My Boyfriend's Back." Smash Records dropped the girls and they went back to studio session work until they scored the top spot of the charts behind Lou Christie's 1966 hit "Lightnin' Strikes." They were then signed to RCA Records for six singles, none of which scratched the charts. Disillusioned and ready to pursue "normal" lives the girls called it quits.
Peggy went on to staff writing for April Blackwood Music, NYC -- penning songs such as "Beggin'" which reached #11 on National Charts, and "September Rain" with Bob Gaudio for Frankie Valli. She also toured and recorded with The Serendipity Singers in the late 1960''s recording one album called "Love Is A State of Mind" with the "Dips"---as the Serendity Singers jokingly referred to themselves. She then went on to record as Dusk, the female counterpart to Dawn, for former Token member Hank Medress, the producer for Tony Orlando and Dawn. As Dusk, Peggy had two chart records, "Angel Baby" and "I Hear Those Church Bells Ringing." "Church Bells" neared Top 40 nationally and reached Top 10 in some statewide markets.
In the early 1970's they reunited to cash in on the sixties revival, and recorded "Papa's Side Of The Bed" as a Polydor single in 1974. Peggy then ran into an old friend from the Angels earlier years, Gary Criss. Criss had a string of successes, both as a solo artist and as part of Glass Bottle, and was well known on the east coast. Criss was coming of of a monster disco smash and brought Peggy to his producer Billy Terrell. Terrell agreed to record Santiglia and set about putting together what would become the 1978 album "Sweet Sweet City Rhythm" by Fantasia featuring Peggy Santiglia. The album is one of disco's most overlooked treasures. With disco's elite behind the production it's no wonder it's a masterpiece. Craig Snyder was responsible for rhythm arrangements while John Davis (Monster Orchestra) arranged horns and strings. Gary Criss and Billy Terrell wrote most of the album with Ray Dahrouge kicking in a song. Richie Rivera put the finishing touches on it with his famous "Midnight Mix." The side-A medley of "Fantasia/Carnival" is the key track, reminiscent of Criss' own Brazilian sounding hits, it's a wild jungle ride with Peggy's soaring vocals. However T.K. Records released a 12" of "Sweet Sweet City Rhythm/Summer In The City." And though it too is good, it lacked the punch that was needed to sell the album. Oddly enough most people did not recognize the name Santiglia at the time and had her affiliation with the Angles been played up it too might have helped the album.
Peggy and Jiggs still performed in 2004 (I do not have any reference whether they still perform today). A successful Grammy appearance, an unauthorized made for television movie entitled "My Boyfriend's Back," (The group in the movie was fictionally named The Bouffants, although the movie was based in part on the Angel's career) and numerous live engagements continue to keep The Angels in the forefront of early pop/rock artists. They still include "My Boyfriend's Back" in their show to delighted fans, as well as a host of other hits of the genre.

From 1978.
Produced by Bill Terrell for Amazon Productions.
Mixed at Sigma Sound, N.Y.
Mixed by Richie Rivera
Midnight mix by Richie Rivera.
Recorded at Alpha Int. Rec. Studio, Phila., Pa. & Sigma Sound, Phila., Pa.
Arranged By [Rhythm] - Bill Terrell , Craig Snyder
Arranged By [Strings, Horns] - John Davis

* Fantasia featuring Peggy Santiglia - Sweet Sweet City rhythm + Summer In The City Medley.MP3

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