The Toys comprised one of the fabulous girl groups of the 60's. Recording on the DynoVoice label out of New York City, they left their mark with one terrific top ten song.
Barbara Harris and Barbara Parritt were both born in North Carolina and moved to New York, where they became classmates at Woodrow Wilson High School in Jamaica, New York. They got to know another girl named June Montiero who used to visit her sister, who was a neighbor of Barbara Parritt. Harris, Parritt, and Montiero enjoyed singing, an activity they engaged in at school, on street corners, at talent shows, or anywhere else that was convenient and soon they began to call themselves the Charlettes. It wasn't long before they made their way to 1650 Broadway in New York City, where they picked up some work as session singers. They sang backup on some recordings made by artists such as Barbara Chandler and Diane Renay, and became acquainted with Renay's record producer, DynoVoice label owner Bob Crewe.
The girls acquired a manager by the name of Vince Marc, who renamed the fledgling group the Toys. Crewe introduced them to songwriters Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell, and things began to happen for the Toys. After several weeks of practice, they went in the studio and recorded four songs under the direction of Linzer and Randell. The first three were done meticulously with retake after retake, and a fourth was added and done in only one take. The last was a reworking of Johann Sebastian Bach's Notebook For Anna Magdalena Bach, Minuet In G, to which Linzer and Randell had added some lyrics and called A Lover's Concerto. All three girls were talented singers and had sang lead at one time or another -- Parritt had a particularly strong voice. The producers selected Barbara Harris for the lead on this one.
It was A Lover's Concerto that vaulted the Toys to immediate stardom. The record soared up the charts in the Fall of 1965, competing for sales with recordings by such luminaries as the Beatles, Elvis Presley, and the Rolling Stones. It went all the way to number two on the Billboard chart, and to number one on Cashbox and other charts. The girls became stars who were very much in demand. They made appearances on the popular television shows Hullabaloo, Shindig!, and American Bandstand. They toured England, Germany, Australia and other parts of the world, and were surprised at how suddenly fame had pushed them to the forefront. Along with other popular music groups of the day including the Castaways, the Animals, and the Gentrys, the girls appeared in a movie, It's A Bikini World (also known as The Girl In Daddy's Bikini). Eventually the Toys returned to the studio and came up with their second (and last) top forty hit, Attack, which entered the charts very early in 1966.
They continued recording, with several labels, but would not match the incredible success of their million-selling first hit A Lover's Concerto. Most of the songs they did featured Barbara Harris as the lead singer and were written by Linzer and Randell. Their most successful song during this period was a re-make of Brian Hyland's Sealed With A Kiss. Shortly after that, in 1968, they broke up.
Each member of the Toys -- June Montiero, Barbara Parritt, and Barbara Harris -- continued in the music business in some capacity or another, and they reunited briefly in 1986. They have remained in touch with each other for more than forty years following their initial success.
A Lover's Concerto is on the soundtrack of the movie Mr. Holland's Opus. It is a masterful recording of a classic piece done with a 60's girl group twist, and the Toys' rendition is a 60's classic of its own.
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