An odd musical craze swept the nation in 1960-61. Billboard called it the "sick" sound, characterizing it as "not necessarily true to pitch." It was a brief string of hits by amateur teen girl singers whose voices weren't, let's say, quite as polished as radio listeners were accustomed to.
Writer and future music publicist Ren Grevatt wryly described this "interesting new kind of artist" in a 1961 Billboard article about the influx of inexperienced teenage girl singers into the pop charts: Kathy (Young) & The Innocents, Cathy Jean & The Roommates, and Rosie & The Originals.
In all cases, the vocalists were 14- or 15-year-old girls with novice singing ability, and all enjoyed major hits in 1960-61: Kathy Young with "A Thousand Stars" and "Happy Birthday Blues," Cathy Jean with "Please Love Me Forever," and Rosie with "Angel Baby."
|Rosalie Hamlin of Rosie & the Originals|
"With a flourish of informality, these thrushes may also set a new pattern in using only their first names, as in Cathy Jean, Rosie, and now one who calls herself simply, Connie. Connie and the Cones are out this week with 'No Time for Tears' and 'Take All the Kisses,' on Roulette."
|Connie Sue Landers AKA Connie Dee|
of Connie and the Cones
Another new "sick" act that Grevatt mentioned was the Creschendos, whose single "Take My Heart" and "My Heart's Desire" was picked up for national distribution by Gone Records in 1961. The female vocalist wasn't named on the label, but as Grevatt snarkily added, "in the current furor for this kind of performance ... she cannot long remain anonymous." In fact, the vocalist was Wanda Burt, the only African-American artist to get lumped in with the sick scenesters. She was older than the others, having been about 18 when the record was recorded.
|Wanda Burt of the Creschendos/Crescendos/|
Maybe listeners found this kind of guileless, unsophisticated singing relatable and down-to-earth, but if so, their enthusiasm didn't last long. Cathy Jean, Rosie, and Kathy Young had no further hits on the Hot 100 after 1961 (although Young nearly had a hit in 1964 with "All You Had to Do," a duet with Chris Montez that showed some improvement in her vocal technique). Interestingly, Fabian's run of Billboard chart hits, which began in 1959, ended in 1960, so his career as a hit-maker died out around the same time as those of his female counterparts.