Cathy Jean & the Roomates

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Cathy Jean & the Roomates scored one of the more memorable hits of the doo wop era with the 1961 smash "Please Love Me Forever" -- the single was also one of the more unusual hits of its day, as its…
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Cathy Jean & the Roomates scored one of the more memorable hits of the doo wop era with the 1961 smash "Please Love Me Forever" -- the single was also one of the more unusual hits of its day, as its participants completed their respective work on the session without ever meeting each other. Steve Susskind and Bob Minsky, both 15 years old, formed the Roomates [sic] on the campus of Queens, NY's Russell Sage Junior High in 1959. Originally conceived as a duo, they first attracted attention after coming in second place at a local amateur showcase competition, with top honors going to rival teen duo Tom & Jerry (aka Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel). The Roomates expanded to a quartet with the 1960 additions of tenors Jack Carlson and Felix Alvarez, signing with husband-and-wife management team Gene and Jody Malis and cutting their debut single, a cover of the Kitty Wells country hit "Making Believe," for the tiny Promo label.

The record earned little notice, and the Malises turned their attention to their fledgling Valmor label, signing 14-year-old Cathy Jean Giordano and producing her proposed debut single, "Please Love Me Forever." Sensing the record needed something extra, Jody Malis recruited the Roomates to contribute harmonies, and though neither act ever met prior to the single's release, it nevertheless hit retail credited to Cathy Jean & the Roomates. After WINS' famed Murray the K named "Please Love Me Forever" his Boss Record of the Week in late 1960, the single entered the Billboard Hot 100 in February 1961, eventually peaking at number 12. The Roomates soon returned to the studio to cut Valmor's second single, a Cathy Jean-free cover of "The Glory of Love" that reached number 49 on the Billboard pop chart. The group also backed Cathy Jean on singles including "Make Me Smile Again" and "One Love," but she never again charted and later retired from music to raise a family.

After releasing the lone Cathy Jean & the Roomates LP, At the Hop, Valmor closed and the Malises leased the Roomates to Cameo and Philips before the group split in 1965. While Jody Malis later wrote and produced recordings for the children's labels Peter Pan and Golden Records, Cathy Jean resurfaced in the late '80s under her married name Ruiz, hosting a morning show on Long Island radio station WNYG and in 1991 cutting a comeback single, "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me." As for the Roomates, Steve Susskind enjoyed success as a character actor, appearing in Friday the 13th: 3D and Star Trek V: The Voyage Home -- he was killed in an automobile accident on January 21, 2005. After battling cancer, Bob Minsky died on August 25, 2006.