THE FLEETWOODS' sound, often imitated and never surpassed, has endured as one of the most listenable and distinctive to come out of the '50s and '60s. Described as "ahead of its time," with the intimate harmonies, intricate counterpoint, and vocal arrangements led by Founder Gretchen Christopher, The Fleetwoods' music is timeless.
Characterized by a closely-harmonized female lead and a male counter-melody, the trios self-penned "Come Softly To Me" debuted in 1959, the nation's #1 Record, Best Selling Sheet Music in the USA & UK, a worldwide hit, and the first Million-Seller Gold Record produced on a Northwest label (Dolton Records).
Today, "Come Softly To Me" and its writers are cited as BMI "Million Airs" with nearly three million USA radio air-plays logged by Broadcast Music, Inc. The now-classic song appeals to all ages and has gained new fans through inclusion in such motion pictures as STAND BY ME; CLEAN AND SOBER; and CROSSING DELANCEY, in which it is the recurring love theme. Among movies of the new millennium,
28 DAYS includes "Come Softly To Me" and its writers in the credits. "Mr. Blue" and "(He's) The Great Imposter" enliven the soundtracks of AMERICAN GRAFFITI; DINER; RETURN TO MACON COUNTY; NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VACATION; and AMERICAN HOT WAX in which The Fleetwoods are portrayed.
Today, The Fleetwoods remain the first group in the world to have two #1 Records top Billboard's Hot 100 in a single year. An accomplishment held exclusively by The Fleetwoods for the first seven years of Rock & Roll history, according to the author(ities) Fred Bronson's THE BILLBOARD BOOK OF NUMBER ONE HITS, and Joel Whitburn's THE BILLBOARD TOP 10 SINGLES CHARTS 1955-2000.
Among legendary network television appearances, The Fleetwoods are now featured on DICK CLARK'S BEST OF BANDSTAND video, and AMERICAN BANDSTAND'S40TH ANNIVERSARY television special. Taped live in the '90s, Nostalgia Network captured The Fleetwoods' DANCIN' TO THE OLDIES performance.
THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW is currently licensing to share The Fleetwoods' performance with the world, in this new millennium. Such CDs as THE BEST OF THE FLEETWOODS (Rhino), THE VERY BEST OF THE FLEETWOODS (EMI/ERG), GREATEST HITS (CEMA), and MR. BLUE (Vanmeter) are becoming collector items.
A limited number of MR. BLUE CDs are now available at the website (TheFleetwoods.com) and concerts, for signing.
TIME/LIFE is currently flashing vintage video clips of The Fleetwoods on TV,
to promote their inclusion on the newest TIMIE/LIFE compilations.
Gretchen Christopher's autobiographical solo CD is a concept album which includes
new recordings of the first hits she co wrote, "Come Softly To Me" and "Graduation's Here", and a wealth of her new songs. They create an intimate soundtrack of her life, from age 16 to the present when, as a leap year baby, she celebrates, Gretchen's SWEET SIXTEEN! (SUITE 16). Naming it as a Billboard Critics' Pick for 10 BEST ALBUMS of 2007, BIllboard 'Chart Beat' Columnist Fred Bronson writes (for the bible of the industry, Billboard.com), "The former Fleetwoods singer, born Feb. 29, celebrates her '16th birthday' by turning her life into a stunning suite of 16 songs."
Through more than four decades, 11 hit singles, 15 albums and 6 CDs, The Fleetwoods' Founder, Female Lead Vocalist, Arranger and BMI Million Airs Songwriter, Gretchen Christopher has remained the one constant performer of the trio. Following the success of her solo concerts, in 1982 the group contracted Gretchen to reorganize The Fleetwoods and serve as Manager with "the sole authority to bind the Original and Replacement Fleetwoods by contract for any performance commitment as manager deems appropriate to carry out the business of THE FLEETWOODS."
She expanded the typical Oldies Concert repertoire (top three Hits) to a 20-song show, fully choreographed,fast-paced, complete with dialogue and costume changes. Noted as a "class act,"that quality has been maintained nationally and internationally; from the Hollywood Bowl to Madison Square Garden; from Canada's biggest supper club (drawing 4,000 - double the legal capacity - despite Michael Jackson's opening his Victory Tour just 60 miles away) to the World's Fair in British Columbia: from the Marina del Rey Music Festival to Vegas in the '90s
Of the Originals, Barbara Ellis retired in 1974, Gary Troxel gave his written resignation in 1983 and only Gretchen Christopher is authorized to carry on the name "The Fleetwoods" per their legal Agreement.
She has trained Replacements on both coasts (including one who truly has Fleetwood blood in her veins: Christopher's "cute cousin Karen Cone from Connecticut," >>-->
as first introduced at the World's Fair, Expo 86, and of whom Barbara Ellis says approvingly, "She sounds just like me!").
In Seattle, delighting the NAMA Awards audience by wearing the same gown she'd worn 29 years earlier (on network television when Dick Clark presented the teenagers with their first two Gold Records), dancer-trim, blonde and blue-eyed Gretchen, in 1988, accepted another Gold Record for the trio as
The Fleetwoods were inducted into the Northwest Music HALL OF FAME.
Today, along with a costume from the trio's first tour, The Fleetwoods' multi-million seller Gold Records(now equivalent to multi-Platinum) are prominently exhibited (at the Seattle Center) in the Northwest Passage at the EXPERIENCE MUSIC PROJECT (EMP). For the EMP's grand opening, June of 2000, Gretchen performed "Come Softly To Me" a cappella with audience participation causing an upsurge of engagements for The Fleetwoods' timeless hits and Gretchen's new songs.
Booked together and separately, Gretchen Christopher and The Fleetwoods carry on the name and music, interspersing The Fleetwoods appearances with solo concerts.
To benefit survivors of the September 11, 2001, terrorists attacks on America,
Gretchen dedicated one of her solo concerts to an evening of fundraising. October 13th, (chosen in memory of the birth date, life, love and loss of her niece, Dawn Christopher, 1964 - 2001), Gretchen temporarily transported the audience beyond the tragedies, with grace, spontaneity, gentle humor, and two hours of her new music and Fleetwoods hits, contributing (through the Salvation Army and American Red Cross) all proceeds of her work, "Come Softly To Me" For Peace on Earth.
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