One year ago in this column, I featured Ruby and the Romantics and their 1963 smash hit “Our Day Will Come.” The record was so big that it cemented the group’s legacy all on its own. But that wasn’t the end of the Ruby and the Romantics output. They were the first to record two other songs that, while they were moderately-sized hits for Ruby and the Romantics, they were even bigger hits for the artists who covered them.
In 1963, Ruby and the Romantics followed up “Our Day Will Come” with the original version of “Hey There Lonely Boy.” The song was a major hit for the group, reaching #27 on the pop chart, and #5 on the R&B chart. But six years later, Eddie Holman changed the gender of the lyrics and took “Hey There Lonely Girl” all the way to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
That wasn’t the end of the story with regard to successful covers of Ruby and the Romantics hits. In 1964, they released the single “When You’re Young and In Love” which was written by Van McCoy and produced by Allen Stanton, the head A&R man at the group’s label, Kapp Records. Again, it was a respectable hit, Top 50 on the pop chart and Top 20 on the R&B chart.
Sure enough, three years later along came Motown’s Marvelettes with their cover of “When You’re Young and In Love” and sure enough, they had a bigger hit with it. It wasn’t the most successful Marvelettes single but it did well enough, reaching #23 on the pop chart and #9 on the R&B chart. The backing track on the Marvelettes hit came courtesy of Motown mainstays the Funk Brothers and the label’s top session singers the Andantes flesh out the background vocals. The record also features the sound of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. It was one of the last Marvelettes records that founding member Gladys Horton appeared on although by that time Wanda Rogers was singing most of the leads including the one on “When You’re Young and In Love.” Shortly after the release of the single, Horton left the group to care for her daughter Sammie who had been born with cerebral palsy.
In 1995, the Marvelettes were given a “Pioneer” award by the Rhythm & Blues Foundation and in 2013, they were inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame. They have been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice but so far they haven’t gotten enough votes to gain induction.