Oct 182012

Ike and Tina Turner’s Ikettes raised the bar for groovy backing vocalists. They may indeed be the grooviest ever, but let’s consider whether any set of groovy backing vocalists has come close, especially, for purposes of this discussion, groovy hippie backing vocalists.

The sight of the half-dozen long-haired, bare-footed, overalls-wearing backing vocalists primed at the 26-second mark of the following Joe Cocker live take on “The Letter” must have been a great inspiration to 1960s-era choir kids gone to pot.


  14 Responses to “Battle Royale: Rock’s Grooviest Hippie Backing Vocalists”

  1. Ahem [adjusts pince nez] Cassie Gaines was Steve gains sister, not wife.

  2. Jeez!!! No wisecracks, please. I’ve already got the English on my ass. I’ll fix that.

  3. I can’t tell if Sunny and Sue are in the Joe Cocker clip but they should definitely be up for consideration. I first noticed them while pouring over some Mott the Hoople liner notes in high school. They sang with Cocker on “A Little Help from my Friends”, with T Rex on 20th Century Boy, and with a bunch of other famous folks like Bowie, Tom Jones, etc.

    Also, Bob Marley’s I Threes should be considered because, while I’m certain there are differences between Rastafarians and hippies, the common denominators of bare feet, weed smoke and patchouli oil should be enough for them to merit inclusion.

  4. I didn’t realize Sue and Sunny were their own entity and members of The Brotherhood of Man. Here they are with their band, in groovy demin-clad times:

    The I Threes count for the reasons you list.

  5. More groovy Brotherhood of Man footage – and especially good contrast with the Ikettes.


  6. Finally, regarding my brief look into Sue and Sunny, I found them backing Lulu on her 1969 Eurovision-winning performance. This ties together our previous thread, on cheeky English soul belters inspired by To Sir With Love:

  7. 2000 Man

    The Honkettes aren’t hippie girls. They’re Southern Rock N’ Roll girls, and I’ll bet they could drink more whiskey than half the male hippie population combined, and still get up and sing.

  8. I personally favour The Blackberries. Venetta (former Ikette), Clydie (a Raelette & Soul Goddess) & Sherlie added welcome glamour to the hair, denim & boogie of Humble Pie.

    Here is the incomparable Claudia Linnear with Kathi McDonald and Sweet Emily on rolling pin ! Furry Lewis sits among the hippies and wonders when the cheque will arrive.

  9. Where I come from even true-blooded, whiskey-soaked American longhairs are hippies!

  10. YES!!! I love the performances from this would-be Robert Altman movie! These backing vocalists have grabbed the belt and are parading it around the ring!

  11. misterioso

    Not hippies, but any excuse to post the clip of Gary Wright performing “Love Is Alive” with the sexy backup singers/percussionists in silky martial arts-type outfits, I’m going for it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCc7XJRDD74

  12. Also, for your consideration: Thunderthighs, a trio of women who sang on Roll Away the Stone by Mott the Hoople and on “Take a Walk on the Wild Side”.

    I think this is them doing Roll Away the Stone. Not particularly hippie-ish but they seem like fun to have in the band. Also notable in this video: Buffin taking the piss out of lip synching with his colossal drumsticks. You should be jotting this stuff down, Koobas Drummer Guy!

  13. BigSteve

    Leon Russell really pioneered that sound, didn’t he? Joe Cocker with Mad Dogs & Englishmen, The Letter:


    At about the one-minute mark you see the white hippie version in all its braless glory. It’s like an R. Crumb cartoon.

    But when I read the original post what I heard in my head was Leon doing Stranger in a Strange Land:


    From about 2:37 you can get a good look at three black women doing a more succinct version of that sound.

  14. When I host my flashback party in my uncle’s bedroom, playing 8-tracks of Leon Russell and Joe Cocker and finger-painting Day-Glo designs on his wall, you’re invited.

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