A firm favourite with Prince Charles, The Three Degrees are well known for their soulful voices in songs such as ‘When will I see you again’, ‘Take Good Care Of Yourself’, ‘My Simple Heart’ and ‘Giving Up, Giving In’. You can see their fabulous stage show at The Apex, Bury St Edmunds on Tuesday 3rd February
When you hear the name, The Three Degrees, you immediately think of their most famous song, ‘When Will I See You Again’, and the vision of three beautifully-clad women, perfectly coordinated in both their dance routines and their vocal harmonies. Indeed, this record was a major hit and topped the charts in the U.S.A., the U.K., Japan and most European countries.
More than four decades on, the threesome have retained all three of their major qualities — their style, their sparkling choreography and their precise vocal qualities – and have amassed an impressive list of hit records. Today, the line-up consists of original members, Valerie Holiday and Helen Scott (Sheila Ferguson left in 1986), and Freddie Pool who joined in 2010.
The actual beginning of the group dates back to 1963, when their then-manager, the enigmatic Richard Barrett brought three young teenagers together in Philadelphia. After a couple of years of rehearsals and low-key gigs, the group made its first mark on the recording scene by way of the Philly-based Swan Records. But they were tough days for the teenagers…
“I remember taking the bus to rehearsals every day,” recalls Helen Scott. “We’d rehearse until 8 or 9 o’clock every night and on weekends. And we’d play local record hops whenever we could. Gradually, we started to make noise outside of Philadelphia and we went to Pittsburgh, into Ohio and Rhode Island. Always on weekends though, because we were all still at school!”
It was during the early 1970s that the threesome made their biggest forward strides with ‘Dirty Ol’ Man’, ‘When Will I See You Again’ and ‘Take Good Care Of Yourself’. Then, in the late 1970s, they teamed up with Giorgio Moroder (of Donna Summer fame) for another string of hits, including ‘Giving Up, Giving In’, ‘My Simple Heart’ and the lush ballad, ‘Woman In Love’.
A great deal of attention has been given to the fact that Prince Charles publicly acclaimed The Three Degrees as his favourite group, inviting them to play at his 30th Birthday celebration and to guest at his and Diana’s wedding reception. “It was a great feeling… a feeling of awe,” is how Valerie remembers this accolade. “Going to Buckingham Palace was… I’m lost for words! But the British people… the actual people… also took to us very quickly and very warmly and that warmth has always remained.”
“It was actually the press who tagged us Charlie’s Angels,” Helen interjects. “I don’t know if Prince Charles himself ever said that.”
Ever since, they have been constantly touring all over the world, occasionally recording but always working. So, after more than five decades of existence, the Three Degrees can still make the claim to be the longest running female vocal group in history – see the Guinness Book of Records for confirmation! And they show no signs of slowing down!
The show at The Apex is on Tuesday 3rd February at 7.30pm. Tickets are £25, please ring the box office on 01284 758000 or see the website www.theapex.co.uk for details.