To paraphrase Shakespeare, whatever we speak to a peach by any name would taste as sweet. But would it not sound as catchy? This was the question that faced Herbert Feemster as he contemplated his future in the music business in the mid-1970s. The answer he developed led right to the highlight of his musical profession, when Peaches & Herb reached #1 on the Billboard pop chart on May 5, 1979 with “Reunited.”
As an aspiring singer back 1965, Herbert parlayed his job in a Washington, D.C., record retailer into an audition with local record producer Van McCoy (later of “The Hustle” fame). From that audition came a recording contract and a McCoy-brokered pairing with one Francine Barker, whose childhood nickname was “Peaches.” From that nickname came “Peaches & Herb,” the supremely catchy name beneath that your duo recorded a string of moderately profitable R&B singles in the late-1960s, which include “Let’s Fall In Love” and “Close Your Eyes.” By 1970, so even, Francine had quit the duo, and Herb had quit the business altogether, going for a working job with the D.C. Police Department.
Then, in 1976, the showbiz bug bit Herb once more. Understanding his personal limitations as a performer, Herb knew he needed a fresh partner as he sought to engineer his reemergence. But he also knew the worth of a name. And so Mr. Feemster quietly installed 1 Linda Greene as his new partner, foregoing a fresh name like “Feemster and Greene” (see, it generally does not really work) and only the main one with proven appeal. It was this reincarnated Peaches & Herb that accomplished superstar status, albeit briefly, behind the 1978 album, 2Hot, and its own irresistible smash-hit singles “Shake Your Groove Thang,” which reached the prime 10, and “Reunited,” which went completely to #1.
And Herbert Feemster’s audacious Peaches-replacement scheme didn’t end there. Following the decline of disco and yet another attempted retirement back again to his civil-service job in D.C., Herb Feemster the moment once again resurrected the Peaches & Herb brand in 1990, anointing Ms. Patrice Hawthorne because the new “Peaches” and launching yet another comeback attempt. Unfortunately for Feemster, that attempt fell brief of one that reached its pinnacle with this day in 1979.