The Lennon Sisters

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Lennon Sisters

Lennon Sisters in 1971 and 1955.
1971, from left: Kathy, Janet, Peggy and Dianne.
1955, from left: Janet, Kathy, Peggy, and Dianne.
Background information
OriginVenice, California, United States
GenresTraditional Pop Music
Years active1955–present
LabelsBrunswick, Coral, Dot, Mercury, Atlantic, Ranwood, Heartland, Maryco
WebsiteLennonSisters.com
Members
Dianne Lennon (1955–1960, 1964–2001)
Peggy Lennon (1955–1999)
Kathy Lennon (1955–Present)
Janet Lennon (1955–Present)
Mimi Lennon (1992–present)
 
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This article refers to the singers. For John Lennon's Aunt Mimi see Mimi Smith.

Lennon Sisters

Lennon Sisters in 1971 and 1955.
1971, from left: Kathy, Janet, Peggy and Dianne.
1955, from left: Janet, Kathy, Peggy, and Dianne.
Background information
OriginVenice, California, United States
GenresTraditional Pop Music
Years active1955–present
LabelsBrunswick, Coral, Dot, Mercury, Atlantic, Ranwood, Heartland, Maryco
WebsiteLennonSisters.com
Members
Dianne Lennon (1955–1960, 1964–2001)
Peggy Lennon (1955–1999)
Kathy Lennon (1955–Present)
Janet Lennon (1955–Present)
Mimi Lennon (1992–present)

The Lennon Sisters are an American singing group initially consisting of four siblings: Dianne (born December 1, 1939), Peggy (born April 8, 1941), Kathy (born August 2, 1943), and Janet (born June 15, 1946). They were all born in Los Angeles, California of German/Irish and Mexican ancestry. The group were a regular on the weekly television show, The Lawrence Welk Show. The original quartet were the eldest four in a family of twelve siblings. In 1992, younger sister Mimi replaced second sister Peggy who retired. Sister Dianne (DeeDee) has also retired. The current group line-up, appearing mostly at Welk resorts, consists of Mimi, Janet and Kathy.

Contents

Career

The quartet debuted on The Lawrence Welk Show on Christmas Eve 1955[1] after their school classmate, Larry Welk, son of Lawrence Welk, brought them to the attention of his father. Welk was home, sick in bed, when his son brought the sisters in to sing for him. He was so impressed he picked up the phone and booked them for that week's show. They were a mainstay on the show until they left to start a career of their own in 1968. The quartet was only three members from 1960 to 1964; oldest sister Dianne (also called Dee Dee) married, left the group, and then rejoined them. Peggy sang the high harmony part, Kathy the low harmony, and Janet and Dianne sang the middle harmony and lead parts. Janet also specialized in barbershop or counter-harmony, taught her by her Dad (who performed during the big band era as one of a quartet with his own three brothers), and the girls idolized Patti Page's multi-track vocal sound, feeling they achieved something close to her smooth blend in their Dot recording of "Stars Fell On Alabama." Kathy was especially fond of Connie Francis, evident in her solo Spanish recording of "Malaguena Salerosa," which showcased her impressive vocal range, & the sisters made no secret that they were huge fans of the innovative, intricate musical stylings of both The Andrews Sisters and The Mills Brothers.[2]

Their first hit, "Tonight, You Belong to Me" reached to #15 on the charts in 1956. This was followed by their 1961 single, "Sad Movies (Make Me Cry)", (Dot 16255), which turned out to be their highest-charting record. It provided them with the only number #1 single of their career, reaching the top of the charts in Japan. While much is written of the group's singing on television, they also recorded frequently for Dot Records in the 1950s & 1960s, producing over a dozen stereo albums featuring their own interpretations of tried and true standards like "Among My Souvenirs," "Moon River," "Twilight Time," & many other popular songs, including some that they were best associated with, like "Scarlet Ribbons," "Greensleeves," and Schubert's "Ave Maria." A themed LP entitled "Dominique" featured the singers with their musically talented siblings & cousins performing a variety of 1960s folk songs, including "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," "If I Had My Way (The Sermon of Samson)," as well as the title track. They recorded briefly for Mercury Records after leaving Dot, focusing on more contemporary pop/light-rock fare, such as "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" and "Never My love." Their three best received, most popular albums were "Lawrence Welk presents The Lennon Sisters: Best-Loved Catholic Hymns (Dot);" "Christmas with The Lennon Sisters (Dot); and "Noel," their Christmas album for Mercury Records. Their full-bodied, homestyle yet choir-like blend added greatly to such yuletide favorites as "Adeste Fideles," "Christmas Island," "Faith of Our Fathers," "The Star Carol," and "Home for the Holidays."[3]

Items such as coloring books, paper dolls and story books were produced with the Lennon sisters.[4]

In 1969, the sisters starred in their own variety show, Jimmy Durante Presents the Lennon Sisters Hour. Six weeks before the show premiered on August 12, the sisters were forced to deal with the shooting death of their father, William Lennon, by a stalker named Chet Young, who believed himself married to Peggy and claimed their father stood in the way and had to be eliminated. Young shot William Lennon in the parking lot of the Marina Del Rey golf course; two months later he used the same weapon to commit suicide. The sisters discovered an unopened letter containing a cut out of their father, a picture of a gun pointed at his head, and the words "High Noon" (the time of the murder). (Source, Dr. Doreen Orion, I Know You Really Love Me) In the wake of the murder, Jimmy Durante Presents The Lennon Sisters Hour lasted one season before it was cancelled by ABC.

In the 1970s, the sisters performed regularly on The Andy Williams Show, and toured with Williams across the country including engagements at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. They also appeared on several game shows as well, such as Family Feud, Tattletales and The Hollywood Squares. From 1994 to 2004, the quartet performed as headliners at the Welk Champagne Theater in the Ozark community of Branson, Missouri. When Peggy retired from singing in 1999, younger sister Mimi took her place, and when Dianne left for a second time in 2001, the act became a trio again for the rest of its run in Branson.[5]

While continuing to play tour dates, Kathy and Janet Lennon have branched out into the toy market, designing and selling their "Best Pals" dolls. In addition to the dolls, the sisters have recorded CDs of favorite children songs for their "Best Pals" line. In addition, Kathy appeared on a religious TV show called Search, produced by Catholic TV Studios in California.

The four original Lennon Sisters wrote their autobiography Same Song, Separate Voices, which was originally published in 1985 and updated a decade later.

Two of their five brothers, Kipp & Pat Lennon make up part of the band Venice along with first cousins Michael and Mark Lennon. [6]

Members

The Lennon Sisters
 DiannePeggyKathyJanet
Born:December 1, 1939April 8, 1941August 2, 1943

June 15, 1946

Spouse(s):Dick Gass
m. October 16, 1960–present
three children
1) Dick Cathcart (1924–1993)
m. May 24, 1964
six children
2) Robert Felt
m. July 2, 1995–present
1) Mahlon Clark (1923–2007)
m. June 26, 1967
divorced 1979
2) Jim Daris
m. April 24, 1982–present
1) Lee Bernhardi
m. May 7, 1966
divorced
three children
2) John Bahler
m. September 25, 1976–present
two children

Awards

In 2001 The Lennon Sisters were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.[7]

References

  1. ^ http://www.welkmusicalfamily.com/lennonsisters.html
  2. ^ Sforza, John: "Swing It! The Andrews Sisters Story;" University Press of Kentucky, 2000; 289 pages.
  3. ^ Sforza, John: "Swing It! The Andrews Sisters Story;" University Press of Kentucky, 2000; 289 pages.
  4. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1293376/bio
  5. ^ vocal group.com
  6. ^ http://www.venicecentral.com/faq.html
  7. ^ http://www.vocalgroup.org/concert.htm

External links