Bobby Sheen

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Though he made a handful of records under his given name, singer Bobby Sheen was far better known to audiences as Bob B. Soxx, the nominal leader of the Blue Jeans, themselves a studio creation of the…
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Though he made a handful of records under his given name, singer Bobby Sheen was far better known to audiences as Bob B. Soxx, the nominal leader of the Blue Jeans, themselves a studio creation of the legendary pop producer and svengali Phil Spector. Born May 17, 1941, in St. Louis, Sheen was raised in West Hollywood, CA. Chiefly influenced by the high, powerful vocals of the great Clyde McPhatter, during the late '50s he toured with various incarnations of the Robins and the Coasters before making his solo debut with the Liberty Records single "How Many Days." At the time, Spector was Liberty's A&R head, and when he formed his own Philles label he brought Sheen with him. Booking time at the Los Angeles recording studio Gold Star, Spector discovered that the unusually rich, resonant echo effects the studio engendered were perfect for the monumental Wall of Sound productions he wished to create, and at just his second Gold Star session he tabbed Sheen to assume lead vocal duties on an R&B rendition of the old Walt Disney tune "Zip-a-Dee Doo-Dah." With no fewer than three guitarists, three bassists, two pianists, and four saxophonists (among other session players), Spector crafted an almost avant-garde reimagining of the simple, saccharine song, and the single reached the Top Ten over Christmas 1962; credited to Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans (i.e., Sheen and vocalists Darlene Love and Fanita James), "Zip-a-Dee Doo-Dah" should have made Sheen a star, but he was for all intents and purposes little more than a cog in the Spector hit machine. Love took over lead vocals for the group's 1963 follow-ups, "Why Do Lovers Break Each Other's Heart?" and "Not Too Young to Get Married," neither of which matched the Blue Jeans' initial success. Except for a pair of tracks on the now-classic A Christmas Gift for You From Phil Spector -- including the thundering "Bells of St. Mary's," arguably Sheen's finest hour -- the group's run was over, and in 1966 Sheen signed to Capitol, releasing the single "Dr. Love" under his own name. Neither "Dr. Love" nor its follow-up, "Something New to Do," enjoyed any real commercial success, although both were later revived on the Northern soul club circuit. Sheen then again toured with the Coasters and briefly ran his own record label, Salsa Picante. He died of pneumonia on November 23, 2000.