PRETTY BERNADETTE: That 1964 Cleopatra label 45 is also a most apt description of the beloved musical visionary and dear friend, Bernadette Carroll, who succumbed to a lengthy illness on 05 October.  Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell takes a both a personal look and an overview of her extraordinary career below. (Click on above image to enlarge).

By Michael McDowell

One of the major blessings of publishing Blitz Magazine over the past 40+ years is that many who were once heroes and inspirations eventually became dear friends.

Never was that more apparent on this end than during the horrific nightmare of October 2014, when my beloved Princess Audrey suddenly succumbed to a major stroke and brain hemorrhage. In the early aftermath of that tragedy, there were several such musical colleagues who went way above and beyond the call of duty by offering prayers, condolences, and keeping in touch regularly to offer support and encouragement, and to inquire as to my well being.

One such dear friend was rock and roll legend and Readington, New Jersey native Bernadette Carroll. Notoriety came in short order for her as a member of the prototypical Angels group, the Starlets, whose haunting 1960 cover of the Hilltoppers/Rudy Vallee masterpiece, P.S. I Love You for Astro Records generated momentum that quickly grew exponentially.

Carroll later was an integral part of the supergroup Jessica James And The Outlaws (with the Angels' Peggy Santiglia and the Delicates' Denise Ferri, whom Carroll met in 1959). Jessica James And The Outlaws provided backing vocals on Patty Duke's 1965 Don't Just Stand There album for United Artists, and also put their distinctive touch on many of the classic Lou Christie sides during his tenure with MGM; most notably on his acclaimed Lightning Strikes and Painter Of Hits albums for the label. Jessica James And The Outlaws in turn made their mark on their own in 1966 with the enduring double entendre classic, We'll Be Makin' Out. Carroll eventually spent a season as the Angels' lead vocalist, during the group's affiliation with RCA Victor. It was a role that was also enjoyred for a time by the Pixies Three's Debra Swisher Horn.

But it was her most impressive string of solo singles that forever endeared Bernadete Carroll to hardcore musicologists and musicians. She first rose to prominence in that respect in 1962 with the release of the high drama masterpiece, My Heart Stood Still for the Julia label. Her Julia-era Laughing On The Outside also enjoyed renewed interest in the UK in 2017.

Ultimately, it was with her move to Laurie Records in 1964 that Bernadette Carroll reached her career zenith with the release of one of rock and roll's most beloved anthems. That single, Party Girl is a sublime example of the relentless optimism that was also indigenous to such like minded releases as the Pixies Three's 442 Glenwood Avenue and Johnny Caswell's At The Shore. Carroll followed that landmark release in rapid succession throughout 1964 and 1965 with such Laurie label gems as Homecoming Party, The Hero, Nicky (which was co-authored by the Four Seasons' Bob Gaudio and Nick Massi), Try Your Luck and Don't Hurt Me.

In her later years, Carroll relocated to West Palm Beach, Florida, where she devoted much of her attention to her family. However, she and Ferri remained in touch, and in the current decade brainstormed a number of potential musical collaborations. A regular presence on social media throughout much of the current decade, Carroll was plagued by health problems in recent months, finally losing her valiant battle on 05 October.

"Bernadette was beautiful inside and out", said Denise Ferri in an online statement.

"We had many years together and many belly laughs. A beautiful, gentle soul. I love you and will miss you".

So will those of us for whom that gentle soul reached out selflessly to provide immeasurable blessings in the face of adversity. Funeral arrangements are pending.