Jay, Peaches, Spinderella and other Darrining Victims

by Amanda Flinner

Bewitched fans were in for a shock when they tuned in to the show's season 6 premiere in 1969: the Darrin Stephens they had grown to love over the course of five years had been replaced without warning by a different actor: Dick Sargent. Or, as he would come to be known in the annals of TV history, The Other Darrin. The sitcom, about a beautiful witch named Samantha and her uptight mortal husband, was a hit under the pairing of Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York. Unfortunately, York became increasingly dependent on pain killers for an excruciating back injury and, when it became too much to bear, the network replaced him with Sargent. Different actor, same character.

Trouble immediately started brewing before filming even began. Agnes Moorehead, the legendary Hollywood actress who played Samantha's devious mother Endora, stood up during the first table script-reading with Sargent and said "I am not fond of change" before storming out. Fans missed the old Darrin, and ratings continually dropped during the last three seasons.

Many musicians have suffered the same fate as York. It's bad enough to be replaced in a band, but to have the new guy answer to your own name adds a new level of insult to injury.

Ever wonder why the group that did "At This Moment" is Billy Vera & the Beaters instead of the more palatable Billy & the Beaters? Vera didn't want to be Darrined.
Jay & the Americans
Original Darrin: Jay Traynor

The 1960s pop group Jay & The Americans had a severe case of the Darrins, replacing the eponymous Jay two times. The first was John "Jay" Traynor, who used his family nickname to headline the group, with Howard Kane, Kenny Vance and Sandy Deanne as "the Americans." When their appeal waned after their first hit "She Cried," Traynor left to pursue a solo career. The group remembers on their website:

"Actually it was a sad day for everyone involved. John Traynor's solo career was less than it should have been. To this day the Americans always say 'Traynor was a great singer with great style and as smooth a voice as they ever heard.'"

Traynor's replacement was found selling shoes at Thom McCann. David Black (formerly Blatt) had been a doo-wopper with The Empires and had a keen ability for mimicking voices - including Traynor's. He wowed the group with an a capella rendition of "Cara Mia" and agreed to change his name to "Jay Black."

In this case, "The Other Darrin" became more popular than the original. The new guy quickly got over puking his guts out before each live performance and settled into his role. With Black as the new Jay, the group reached new heights of success with hits like "Cara Mia," "Come a Little Bit Closer" and "This Magic Moment." After a tiff with the IRS years later, Black was forced to drop the rights to perform as Jay & the Americans but managed to salvage the Jay Black moniker in 2006. Sandy Deanne, fearing some impostor band would swoop in and steal the name, went to auction to bid on the Americans and met Jay #3 in the process.

Jay Reincke, who'd been covering the group's songs with his own band for years, offered over $100,000 for the name, but had to bow out because of music laws in his home state of Illinois. The Truth in Music Act stipulated that a band was not allowed to perform under an existing group's name unless at least one original member was involved. When Deanne heard the news, he contacted Reincke for a meeting that would signify the newest incarnation of Jay and the Americans.

Peaches & Herb - Peaches
Original Darrin: Francine Barker

Herb Fame was fickle about his Peaches. As half of the '60s singing duo Peaches & Herb, he went through six partners - starting with Francine Hurd Barker - all the while calling each new one "Peaches."

Fame and Barker first partnered after their 1966 cover of "Let's Fall in Love" - sort of a test run for the potential duo - caught public attention. Next came "Close Your Eyes," "For Your Love" and "Love is Strange," putting them on the fast track as the new "Sweethearts of Soul." But Barker wasn't prepared for the rigorous demands of touring and decided to semi-retire from the music industry.

Peaches #2, Marlene Mack, took Barker's place on tour until Fame also decided to retire in 1970 for a job in law enforcement. After a stint on the Washington, D.C. police force, he was ready to return to music in 1976 and went on the prowl for a new Peaches. The third time proved to be a charm with Linda Greene as their partnership spawned seven albums and memorable hits like "Reunited" and "Shake Your Groove Thing."

In 1990, Fame was ready for Peaches #4 after another round of service in law enforcement left him itching to return to music. Patrice Hawthorne, an alum of the TV talent show Big Break, briefly filled the role without much success. Miriamm Wright took over as Fame's fifth fruity counterpart from 2002 to 2005, joining him on a number of PBS specials, followed by Wanda Makle, who was a part-time Peaches on weekend gigs.

Peaches #6 is not only memorable as Fame's final partner, but also as the only non-black Peaches in the bunch. The Spanish Meritxell Negre proved to be a good match, however, as their partnership produced Colors of Love (2009), the first Peaches & Herb album since 1983's Remember with Linda Greene.

But let's not forget where it all started. The name "Peaches" was special to its originator Francine Barker, who passed away in 2005. Her obituary states she earned the nickname as a child, "mainly due to her gentle disposition."

Original Darrin: Crystal "C" Jones

Fans of '90s hip-hop can immediately rattle off the names behind TLC: T-Boz, Left Eye and Chilli. But how many of them can remember the original C, Crystal Jones? She was actually the mastermind behind the group before they went on without her to achieve groundbreaking success with multiple Grammys and chart-topping hits like "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg," "Creep" and "No Scrubs."

Back in 1990, Jones was a teenager trying to round up a couple of girls to complete her trio, 2nd Nature. After she met Tionne Watkins and Lisa Lopes, the three auditioned for R&B singer Perri "Pebbles" Reid, who was impressed with their talent but not with their name. She suggested TLC, inspired by the first letter of each of their names. But there was one more problem: Reid's then-husband, Antonio "L.A." Reid, wasn't jonesing for Jones and wanted to replace her with Rozonda Thomas. Reid's assessment wasn't much of a surprise for Watkins and Lopes, who admit they clicked a lot better with each other than with Jones.

"Me and Lisa clicked real fast, maybe too close, because we did not click with Crystal and it was her group," Watkins told VH1's Behind the Music.

Not wanting to lose the TLC name, the girls decided to adopt nicknames to synch with the initials. Goodbye Tionne, Lisa and Crystal, hello T-Boz, Left Eye and Chilli. As for the other C, a Facebook page has been named in her honor as the true founder of TLC (The Crystal Jones Appreciation Page).

Original Darrin: Latoya "DJ Spinderella" Hanson

Like TLC's Crystal Jones, Salt-n-Pepa's original DJ Spinderella was Darrined just before the hip-hop trio's first full-length album was produced. Latoya Hanson was Spinderella to Cheryl James' Salt and Sandra Denton's Pepa for their debut single, "Showstopper," in 1985. Shortly after, she was replaced by teenager Deidra "Dee-Dee" Roper (talk-show host Wendy Williams, then an unknown, also auditioned), who kept Hanson's nickname.

The story behind the original DJ's dismissal has always been that Hanson's work was not up to snuff, that she would show up late to rehearsals if she showed up at all. She tells a different story in an online interview with Glam Sense Divas:

"They (Salt-n-Pepa) were hard to work with...they were immature to the business and didn't understand professionalism, where as I did. So I split and moved on and had a family, but continued to work behind the scenes, supporting others until I was ready to be in the spotlight again."

Roper stayed with the group as the new Spinderella for their entire run, which included five albums and memorable hits like "Push It," "Let's Talk About Sex," "Whatta Man" and "Shoop." (They even gave their DJ a showcase song - clarifying her gender - with the 1988 track "Spinderella's Not A Fella.") In 1995, they also became the first female rappers to win a Grammy Award when "None Of Your Business" won Best Rap Performance.

Even with all of this, Hanson insists she was using the name long before she joined Salt-n-Pepa, and Roper will never truly be Spinderella.

"Dee-Dee Roper is not The Original Spinderella, I don't care who she think she is!! And I have to keep them calm. The problem is that the group put a battery in her back and made her believe she is (ME), The Original Spinderella."

The Beatles
Original Darrin: The "Real" Paul McCartney

If the Paul McCartney legend ever proves to be true, it will be the greatest example of a new Darrin, even surpassing the original York/Sargent switch. Rumor has it, the real McCartney died in a car crash in 1966 and was replaced by a doppleganger to fool the Beatles' fans. Student journalists at Drake University in Iowa dropped the bombshell on September 17, 1969: "Is Beatle Paul McCartney Dead?"

Soon, radio stations and magazines picked up on the story and everyone was on the hunt for clues to the mystery. Fans scrutinized each facial feature of McCartney and his double to prove this long-nosed, crooked-chinned impostor couldn't possibly be the real Paul. Some claimed he was William Campbell, the winner of a McCartney look-alike contest. Others insisted it was Billy Shepherd of the band Billy Pepper and the Pepperpots who went under the knife to look more like the dead Beatle.

The group officially denied the rumors, stating "Paul is still very much with us," but that didn't sway the diligent sleuths who were determined to find the truth. They claimed the remaining Beatles peppered clues throughout their music and on album covers to encourage fans not to give up. The cover of Abbey Road allegedly depicts a funeral procession, while John Lennon laments "I buried Paul" in "Strawberry Fields Forever." The ever-popular practice of spinning rock-and-roll albums backwards to reveal hidden messages was applied to "Revolution 9" and exposed the shocking lyrics "turn me on, dead man." The White Album's "Saint Paul" was even treated as a tribute to the "late" Paul McCartney.

Decades later, McCartney poked fun at the myth and titled his 1993 live album Paul is Live.

The Drifters, 1953 version: Bill Pinkney, Gerhart Thrasher, Clyde McPhatter, Willie Ferbee, Andrew Thrasher
The Drifters
Original Darrins: Clyde McPhatter, William Anderson, Charlie White, David Baughan, David Baldwin, and James Johnson

By the early 1950s, casual R&B fans knew Clyde McPhatter by voice, but not by name. His lilting vocal soared as the lead tenor of Billy Ward and His Dominoes, a popular vocal group, thanks largely to McPhatter's gospel-style fervor, but many listeners assumed it was Billy Ward who was doing the belting. Ahmet Ertegun knew better. When the Atlantic Records founder went to a Dominoes gig in 1953 and found McPhatter, who had just been Darrined by newcomer Jackie Wilson, missing, he tracked down the singer and convinced him to start his own group: The Drifters. For the next six decades, the hitmaking R&B group was a revolving door of Darrins, with more than 60 vocalists, including over a dozen different lead singers, coming in and out of the fold.

McPhatter assembled his first lineup out of his former gospel group, the Mount Lebanon Singers: William Anderson, Charlie White, David Baughan, David Baldwin, and James Johnson. After four songs, including "Lucille," Atlantic demanded a shakeup. Enter Bill Pinkney (first tenor), Andrew Thrasher (second tenor), Gerhart Thrasher (baritone), Willie Ferbee (bass vocal), and Walter Adams (guitar) joining leader McPhatter. This iteration struck gold, with "Money Honey" hitting #1 on the R&B chart, followed by #2 entries "Such A Night," "Honey Love," and "White Christmas."

Under McPhatter's lead, the Drifters were doing well. He had a 50/50 stake in the group with manager George Treadwell and shared his earnings with the rest of his mates. When he left to embark on a solo career, however, he sold his share to Treadwell. Now, the Drifters were underpaid and overworked, causing frequent lineup changes and eventual splinter groups, like Bill Pinkney's "Original Drifters."

In 1958, Treadwell, frustrated by a particularly contentious lineup without a solid lead, fired the whole group and replaced them with Ben E. King's doo-wop outfit The Five Crowns. While King was only with The Drifters for two years before going solo, his tenure ushered in a popular era for the group, spawning hits like "There Goes My Baby," "This Magic Moment" and "Save The Last Dance For Me." Rudy Lewis followed with "Some Kind of Wonderful," "Up On The Roof," "On Broadway," and longtime member Johnny Moore took sole lead with "Under the Boardwalk."

In 1988, The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inducted The Drifters, cherry-picking members of different lineups, including one-time leads McPhatter, King, Lewis, Moore, and Charlie Thomas, plus baritone-turned-first-tenor Gerhart Thrasher.

These days, the Drifters continue to drift, with a whole new crop of Darrins taking the group on tour for their 65th anniversary in 2018.

Mouth & MacNeal
Original Darrin: Willem "Big Mouth" Duyn

Bandmates can die, but a good band name will live forever. Or so Maggie MacNeal thought when she tried to resurrect her musical partnership with a new "Mouth" in 2008. The pop duo from the Netherlands was known for their 1972 international hit "How Do You Do?" Willem "Big Mouth" Duyn split in 1974 to create a new duo, Big Mouth & Little Eve, with his future wife while MacNeal went on to pursue a solo career under the name Sjoukje Smit.

MacNeal didn't consider a reunion until four years after Mouth's sudden death from a heart attack in 2004. She sought Arie Ribbens as a replacement, but no one was buying it.

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich
Original Darrins: John "Beaky" Dymond and Michael "Mick" Wilson

The UK pop/rock band Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich was originally known as the simpler Dave Dee and the Bostons when they formed in 1961. After they signed a recording contract with Fontana Records, they wanted to personalize the name and make it more interesting. People would hardly line up to listen to Dave Dee, Trevor, John, Michael and Ian, but their respective nicknames could draw a crowd. And they did.

But while they were dominating the UK Charts with hits like "The Legend of Xanadu," "Hideaway," and "Hold Tight!," to name a few, the band was going through line-up changes. Drummer Michael "Mick" Wilson and rhythm guitarist John "Beaky" Dymond were both replaced, but left their nicknames behind for the new guys. Paul Bennett and Anthony Stephen Carpenter each stepped in as "Beaky," while John Hatchman became the new Mick.

Dave Dee passed away in 2009 and proved to be irreplaceable, and the name was shortened to Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich.

The Village People
Original Darrins: Mark Mussler, Dave Forrest and Lee Mouton

If you still can't resist acting out all the moves to "Y.M.C.A," then you can probably list all of the characters from the disco-fabulous Village People: the Cowboy, the Cop, the Construction Worker, the Native American, the Biker and the G.I./Sailor. But the men behind the spurs, the badge, the tight jeans, the headdress, the leather and the military cap were often a sea of interchangeable Darrins.

The idea for The Village People was the mustachioed brainchild of French composer Jacques Morali. He took out a simple ad in 1977 to attract the right type of men for his venture to recreate the stereotypical gay scene of New York's Greenwich Village: "Macho Types Wanted: Must Dance And Have A Moustache." The first batch of recruits was Felipe Rose (Native American), Victor Willis (Cop) Alex Briley (Sailor), Mark Mussler (Construction Worker), Dave Forrest (Cowboy) and Lee Mouton (Biker). The latter three proved to be too inexperienced as singers and dancers and were replaced by David Hodo, Randy Jones, and Glenn Hughes.

Throughout the group's run from 1977-1986 and their reunion from 1987 to the present, only Felipe Rose and Alex Briley have managed to avoid the Darrin treatment (aside from temporary replacements onstage).

So remember the next time you're tempted out onto the dance floor by "Y.M.C.A," not everybody has to be a Randy Jones - there's plenty of room for other Cowboys like yourself.

Updated April 2, 2019
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Comments: 4

  • San from ChicagoBeautiful Stories of the Passed Musicians. Thank U.
  • Ronnie from Anderson, ScMiriam Wright was really Peaches #6, from the D.C. area..
  • Patrick from Albany, NyI actually took Taekwondo with Jay Traynor for a couple of years in the early 2000's. He ended up being a long time camera operator for WNYT (Channel 13) here in NY, and is still an all around great guy.
  • Brad from Barry, Texas UsaFred LaBour, also known as Too Slim, from the band Riders in the Sky, was instrumental in the spreading of the "Paul is dead" urban legend while he was a junior at the University of Michigan.

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