Who are the Jelly Beans?
The Jelly Beans are one of those bands who were fleetingly active, in this case, during the 1960s. The R&B vocal quintet was comprised of one man and four women, and formed in Jersey City, New Jersey. The famous songwriting team of Leiber and Stoller took the group on signed them to their label, Red Bird. The Jelly Beans’ debut single, “I Wanna Love Him So Bad,” became a smash in the US in 1964. The following single, “Baby, Be Mine” managed to cop a spot on the Billboard Hot 100. Their following releases, though, failed to chart, and in 1965 The Jelly Beans were no more.
The formation of the Jelly Beans, and their signing to Red Bird Records
The Jelly Beans were an R&B and pop vocal quintet (sometimes a quartet) hailing from New Jersey City, New Jersey (though some sources say they were based in New York). The mixed vocal group consisted of one man and four women: Charles Thomas, Alma Brewer, Diane Taylor, and sisters Elyse and Maxine Herbert.
The fivesome attended the same high school in Jersey City when someone named Bill Downs — who turned out to be their manager — discovered them in 1963. Downs arranged them for a meeting with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. The famed songwriting duo then in turn signed the youngsters to their own label Red Bird Records.
The group’s only big hit with “I Wanna Love Him So Bad”
Calling themselves the Jelly Beans, the quintet did their recording sessions under the supervision of songwriters/producers Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich. These sessions resulted into the group’s debut single “I Wanna Love Him So Bad” (written by Barry and Greenwich) in 1964. The single went to #9 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #7 on the R&B singles chart that year.
“Baby Be Mine”
The Jelly Beans’ follow-up single “Baby Be Mine” was written by Barry, Greenwich and Steve Venet. It fared less well than its predecessor, peaking at only #51 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, the ballad was one of the Jelly Beans’ better songs in terms of artistic quality and execution.
Decline and disbandmnent
The Jelly Beans waxed out an ample enough number of recordings that could have been made into a full-length LP; however, an album was never in sight for the group (the band planned to record an album for Red Bird but it was aborted). Red Bird Records, meanwhile, was busy grooming other bigger acts such as the Dixie Cups and the Shangri-La’s, and by the end of 1964 the Jelly Beans was out of the label’s roster. The group tried to resurrect their career by recording a single on Eskee label. However, it did nothing, and the Jelly Beans disbanded the following year.
A Jelly Beans album was never issued until sometime the 1990s. The LP was calledThe Jelly Beans and Friends, featuring the band’s best songs including, of course “I Wanna Love Him So Bad.” It also highlights the most excellent obscure East Coast soul classics every discerning music fan would love to discover.