New article by Pete Clemons from Coventry Telegraph
Georgina Oliver - lead vocals
Pamela Jarman - vocals
Valerie Jones - vocals
The Orchids were a trio of 15-year-old girls from Coventry who went from winning a local talent contest to national television and an international recording career. They won their contest at Coventry's Orchid Ballroom, thus acquiring their name, and fell right into the managerial arms of Larry Page (renowned for his later work with the Troggs). They were signed to English Decca in 1963 and released the first of three British singles that year, "Gonna Make Him Mine" b/w "Stay At Home," produced by Shel Talmy and picked up on Ready Steady Go Despite that exposure, the single didn't chart, but the trio was unusual enough in England (where "girl" singers tended to be in their 20's) to get lots of television appearances and even a spot in the movie Just For You, singing "Mr. Scrooge." Their second single, "Love Hit Me," received a huge, Phil Spector wall-of-sound style production that got the trio pegged as England's (or at least Decca's) answer to the Crystals.
From Rex Brough -
"For the best article on this fantastic girl group, go to Spectropop, the ultimate girlgroup website. Ian Slater and Ian Chapman are the authors.
Coventry's only girl-group's career started when they won a competition at the Orchid Ballroom. Larrythe resident DJ spotted the Stoke Park Grammar schoolgirls and got them a deal with Decca. Shel Talmy (Who, Kinks etc..) produced their records. As a girl-group they probably were the only one that successfully emulated stateside groups like Crystal/Shirelles. They sounded how they looked, Coventry schoolgirls against a Spectoreque backing, particularly on "Love hit me". Wonderful! Next to the Orchids, other British girl-groups sound too polished.
The TV show Ready Steady Go! played "Gonna Make Him Mine", as dancer Patrick Kerr demonstrated the Hitch-Hiker. Also they featured in the 1964 pop movie Just For You, singing "Mr. Scrooge".
In America they were billed as the Blue Orchids to avoid clashing with a homegrown Orchids. After that they changed their name to the Exceptions and cut one more single under that name. Apparently they did a Bert Berns, one of his own songs, "Just Like Mine". Also there was a session with Andrew Oldham, a song called "Society Girl", but this, like the Berns track never saw the light of day.
Great Coventry group - Where are they now? Pam is headmistress of a school in Scotland, Georgina living in Vancouver, and celebrating 30 years marriage. Valerie moved to Cornwall."
Love Hit Me / Don't make me mad Dec 1963 Decca
I've got that feeling (written by the Kink's Ray Davies)/Larry - 1964 Decca
Oo-Chang-a-lang - US single
What more do you want / Soldier Boy - As The Exceptions - 1965
Tracks found on Compilation CDs
Love Hit Me and Don't make me mad - on Pop Goes the Sixties Volume 1 - See For Miles
Oo-Chang-a-lang and Soldier boy - on The Girls Scene - See For Miles
Memories from Georgina Oliver (Orchids Lead Singer!)- From Rex Brough
" For us it was just about having fun and maybe meeting some pop stars at the time. Now I realise that
We started off singing together in the schoolyard at recess and lunch hours. We would sing the latest songs with our friends and I guess after a while it just seemed to be us singing and everyone else listening. Pam entered us in a talent contest one Saturday at the Orchid ballroom. We used to go there dancing every Saturday afternoon. Val and I didn't go that weekend for some reason and when Pam told us what she had done we were horrified! Anyway we won first prize - one whole pound!! Larry Page gave us the name The Orchids after the ballroom and arranged for some Decca people to come up to Cov to hear us sing. And as they say the rest is history.
Crystals, Ronettes, Marvin Gaye, etc. We also liked the Beatles of course. Val liked the Stones but I wasn't into them. We wanted to do songs like the Motown stuff but nobody listened to us! The song I wrote - Soldier Boy - was, I guess, styled after the "teenage angst" songs of the States, you know, my boyfriend rides a Harley and now he's dead kinda thing. I enjoyed singing the less "poppy" music.
We didn't have a name before the Orchids and yes Larry Page did name us. Very original, right? To tell you the truth I can't remember a whole lot about him. He was okay I guess, he wasn't a Fagin or Svengali. When I think back I guess he wasn't really that old but he seemed so to us being the fifteen year old brats that we were. I'm sure we must have exasperated him no end at times!
Johnny B. Great and the Goodmen and Shel Naylor. We all went down to London one evening after school to the recording studio (we recorded most of our records through the night, I guess it was cheaper then) We were all crammed into a van trundling down the M1. We girls got a case of the giggles and drove the guys mad. They threatened to dump us on the side of the road if we didn't shut up! Our first ever recording was as backup on Johnny's record "School is In". I don't remember singing with any of the groups other than that. We did make an appearance in Oxford in a show with Gerry and The Pacemakers and a few other people. Sounds Incorporated backed us when we did our set.
Juke Box Jury a few times. We were on the show the Beatles did from Liverpool. We were so excited that we might get to meet them. No such luck. We were seated in the audience and had to stand up in a spotlight after the Beatles voted our record a miss!!!!
Yes, the schoolgirl look was all Larry Page's idea. Do you think any teenager in their right mind would have come up with that one!! Speaking of the Kinks I guess you know that Ray Davies wrote "I've Got that Feeling" and I do remember a rumour back then that the Kinks were slated to be our backing group. When Page took them on I remember him asking us to come up with a new name for them. They were The Ravens at the time. I'm afraid we can't take credit for the "Kinks", someone else came up with that.
I guess it all ended in 1965 after our last release. I guess Decca didn't renew our contract and it just kinda fizzled out. The three of us stayed friends and kept in touch until I leftschool at 16 to go to art college. The other two stayed on for the sixth form. After two years at Coventry College of Art and three years at West Sussex College of Art and Design studying textile design I liked the idea of being a perpetual student. I went to Weymouth teaching college thinking that maybe I would become a teacher. I soon realised that no, I didn't want to do that!
More You Tube of The Orchids on Deal Nelson's You Tube site