MARCY and Howard were teenage sweethearts, so she wrote a song about him, but changed his name to RONNIE because it sounded better.

Printed nearby is a photograph of Marcy inscribed to "Fred", otherwise known as Lugee Alfredo Giovanni Sacco, leader of Lugee & the Lions, the backing vocalists on her hit recording of the song. "I can only say that I wish you all the luck in the world with your career," she wrote. "I'm sure that someday soon I'll be hearing records by Lugee on the radio." Indeed she would, for Lugee & the Lions' first 45, 'The Jury', would soon join 'Ronnie' on the airwaves.

Born Marcy Rae Sockel in 1944 in the Oakland area of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, every Saturday for four years, the young singer had been travelling to the Carlton House Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh to take voice lessons from Lennie Martin, a local songwriter, arranger and record business entrepreneur. By 1961 the 17-year-old, who would graduate from high school that spring, had written her song and was ready to record it.

Along with Lennie Martin and co-producer Lou Guarino, among those joining Marcy on the session at nearby United Recording Service studios were backing vocalists Lou Sacco, his older sister Amy, Kay Chick and Bill Fabec, collectively known as Lugee & the Lions. Released in March on Martin's recently founded Robbee label (so-named after his son Robert), 'Ronnie' was an immediate local success, prompting Liberty Records to pick up the disc for national distribution. By the end of May the record was #1 on WFRA's Fabulous Fifty Tunedex and at #81 on Billboard's Hot 100.

Marcy's follow-up, 'Since Gary Went In The Navy', an ode to the recently conscripted Gary Troxel of the chart-topping Fleetwoods, was released the same June week as a rival version by Roberta Wynn, resulting in neither garnering much airplay. Robbee Records released one more Marcy Jo 45, 'Jumping Jack', but by the end of 1961 the logo had ceased to exist.

In 1962 Marcy signed with the larger Philadelphia-based Swan Records, who released her 45s 'I'm A Dreamer, Aren't We All' and 'How Softly A Heart Breaks', lopping an "e" of her name in the process. The label then teamed her with another young Pennsylvanian, Eddie Rambeau, for a duet medley, 'Those Golden Oldies' - "Six Great Oldies In One New Hit", ran the trade ads. Sticking with the potpourri format, the duo's next release, 'Lover's Medley' - combining 'The More I See You' and 'When I Fall In Love' - bubbled under the Hot 100 in August 1963. Sadly, Lennie Martin passed away the following month, aged 46. A further solo 45, 'The Next Time', proved to be Marcy Jo's final sighting. By then Lugee Sacco had been renamed Lou Christie and was riding the charts with his third hit record.

And Howard, Marcy's teenage sweetheart? Reader, she married him.

Ronnie/ Robbee R-110
My First Mistake  
Since Gary Went In The Navy/ Robbee R-116
What I Did This Summer  
Jumping Jack/ Robbee R-117
Take A Word  
I'm A Dreamer, Aren't We All/ Swan S-4116
First Kiss  
How Softly A Heart Breaks/ Swan S-4128
Those Golden Oldies/ Swan S-4136
When You Wore A Tulip  
Lover's Medley/ Swan S-4145
The Car Hop And The Hard Top  
The Next Time/ Swan S-4148
How Sweet It Is  

Based on research by Harry Young

Illustrations courtesy Harry Young, Martin Roberts and Mick Patrick

Much more on Robbee Records: