Photo credits: Aladdin Records
Leonard Lee was a singer who rose to fame as half of the 1950s duet Shirley and Lee. He was born in New Orleans, Louisana on June 29, 1935. He died on October 23, 1976.
They recorded “I’m Gone,” their debut song as “Shirley & Lee,” produced by Cosimo Matassa, and peaked at #2 on the Billboard R&B charts in 1952. The album included a vocal contrast between Goodman’s soprano and Leonard’s baritone, which later composers claim impacted the formation of ska and reggae.
They were called “the Sweethearts of the Blues” because they claimed to be in love in several of their early songs. The song “Let the Good Times Roll,” which they recorded in 1956 after switching up their sound, became their most successful single and peaked at number one on the US R&B list and at # 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
It received a gold disc and had sales of over a million copies. Although the duo’s 1955 song “Feel So Good” and its follow-up, “I Feel Good,” both charted, the duo’s next recordings were less successful, and in 1959, they switched to the Warwick label. In 1963, Goodman and Leonard split. Leonard afterward released a few unsuccessful solo records.
Goodman relocated to California in the middle of the 1960s, where she sang as a session vocalist on songs by Sonny and Cher, Dr. John, and other artists. She also briefly formed a duo with Jessie Hill at this period. She sang background vocals for The Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street album before taking a temporary hiatus.
Shirley & Lee reassembled for a single performance at Madison Square Garden in New York City on October 15, 1971. Early rock performers, including Bobby Rydell, Bo Diddley, and Chuck Berry were listed on the show’s credits.