Ah, those distant days of long ago (that would be the 1960s) when Girl Groups were everywhere. And known for their distinctive style. The very first wave of GGs often wore smoothly coiffed bouffant hair, and party dresses with white gloves, but then came the beehive, mascara, mini-skirts (or form-fitting stirrup pants) and boots. Those were the days all right. And the groups had sweet and lyrical names; names like The Angels, The Chiffons, The Cookies, The Shangri-Las, Reparata and The Del-rons…Hold on, back up a minute…run that last one by me again. Yes, Reparata and the Del-rons. They may not have been a household name back in those early days, not like the Ronettes or Crystals anyway, but they had quite a loyal following. Their modest hits include “Whenever a Teenager Cries,” “In My Diary” and my personal fave, a number which certainly gives the Shangri-Las’ teen tragedies a run for their money, “I’m Nobody’s Baby Now.” You’re probably wondering where the group’s name came from. Well, the story goes like this:
The girls were all friends from the same Catholic high school in Brooklyn. When they formed their first quartet in 1962, they called themselves the Del-rons, in homage to a popular male group of the day The Del-Vikings. Later on, their manager didn’t think that name had enough pizzazz, and asked them to come up with something more “flamboyant.” So the lead singer, Mary Aiese, renamed herself Reparata, after her favorite nun at school. Now, I’m no expert in nun’s names, but I going to go out on a limb here and say that Reparata might be related to the noun, reparation, which means to make repairs or make amends, or offer expiation, atonement. Okay, I think we’re getting somewhere.
The girls did everything right. They had genuine talent; they recorded, toured, hung out with Dick Clark, but they never quite made it to the heights that many, myself included, think they should have. As the 60s wore on, and the British invaded, it got tough for everybody. In a real ironic twist, Reparata and the Del-rons gained a stronger following in the UK. Today, they are attracting renewed attention, as interest in early rock and pop is kind of looping back to see just what we might have missed the first time. You might say that the listening public is making reparations.