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The Drew-Vels

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The Drew-Vels were sisters Erma Drew, Patti Drew, and Lorraine "Micki" Drew, and Carlton Black. A younger sister, Cynthia Drew, filled in occasionally. The sisters were from Evanston, IL, which is 15 miles north of Chicago, and formed while Patti and Micki attended Evanston Township High. Older sister Erma was married to Black, who also wrote most of their material. Producer/manager Peter Wright signed the Drew-Vels to Carone Productions and produced and managed them. Carone Productions signed an agreement with Capitol Records to release, market, and distribute the Drew-Vels' recordings. The deal struck oil with their first single, "Tell Him" (November 1953), their biggest single; the B-side, "Just Because," credits Patti Drew as the writer, the only song she ever had recorded. Capitol followed with a two-sided (albeit minor) hit, "It's My Turn" b/w "Everybody Knows," in March 1964. After "Creepin'" b/w "I've Known" (June 1964), Capitol didn't issue any more Drew-Vels singles. Wright signed the Drew-Vels to his Quill label and released two of their singles in 1965: "Come out Dancing" and "Chilly Kisses." Faced with the continual problem of trying to please and keep together a group, Wright persuaded Patti Drew to go solo; the second Quill release was credited as a Patti Drew solo. Patti was the real singer, and it was easier to manage one person than a group, even if the members were siblings. Black was no problem -- he had been singing and recording with the Duvals (later the Naturals) since 1963 while he was also a member of the Drew-Vels. Erma Drew, Micki Drew, and Cynthia Drew became housewives and nine-to-fivers, while Patti went on to a solo career with Capitol. She was doing fine, hitting with a remake of "Tell Him" and "Working on a Groovy Thing," but started experimenting with drugs while living in Los Angeles. Wright, keeping a promise to Drew's parents to look after her, shut Patti's career down and sent her back to Evanston; the sensuous alto was never heard from again. ~ Andrew Hamilton