*There were many Peaches in Peaches & Herb throughout the decades, but only one Herb. And today is his 78th birthday.
Born Herbert Feemster on Oct. 1, 1942, in the Anacostia section of Washington D.C. , Herb changed his last name to Fame and got his start in the music business after graduating from Roosevelt High School.
While working in a record store, he crossed paths with musician and record producer Van McCoy, who would go on to record the iconic disco staple “The Hustle” in 1975.
Van McCoy ended up signing Herb to Columbia subsidiary Date Records and paired him up with Francine “Peaches” Barker, who had been part of a trio on the label called The Sweet Things under her stage name Francine Day.
From McCoy’s recordings of Fame and Barker – now called Peaches & Herb – came the single, “We’re in This Thing Together,” which was a flop — until months later in December of 1966, when a St. Louis disc jockey played the single’s B-side, a revival of the 1934 hit “Let’s Fall in Love.”
“Let’s Fall in Love” became a hit, and was followed in the next two years by several albums and singles, including the hits “Close Your Eyes,” “Love Is Strange” and “For Your Love.”
Although their careers were taking off around their media image as the “Sweethearts of Soul,” Barker got tired of her years on the road and decided to retire from the duo. Enter singer Marlene Mack (aka Marlene Jenkins), who became the new “Peaches” on stage, while Barker’s vocals remained on all of the duo’s recordings for Date Records.
Herb ended the act in 1970 and took a hard left turn by enrolling in the D.C. police academy. He was a full time police officer until 1976, when he decided to jump back into the music business with a fresh new Peaches. His mentor McCoy suggested local D.C. talent Linda Greene, whose musical training took place at DC’s Sewell Music Conservatory. Fame met Greene and the two hit it off, becoming the most successful Peaches and Herb incarnation of the three to date.
Their first of seven albums together, “Peaches & Herb,” was produced by McCoy for MCA Records and generated the lone hit single, “We’re Still Together.”
Next, Peaches & Herb signed with MVP/Polydor and released the album “2 Hot,” which went gold. It’s first single, “Shake Your Groove Thing,” also went gold and peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1979.
The follow-up single was the triple platinum, Grammy-nominated hit “Reunited.” With a wink to the 1960s Peaches & Herb hit “United” (originally recorded and made a hit by The Intruders), “Reunited” reached No. 1 on both the Hot 100, the Billboard R&B chart, and in Canada. It was nominated for a Song of the Year Grammy in 1980.
Subsequent albums with Polydor produced several more hits, including the wedding staple, “I Pledge My Love.”
After changing labels again to the Entertainment Company, Fame and Greene released their seventh and final album in 1983. Scoring only one minor hit, the duo decided to call it quits. Fame returned to law enforcement and joined the U.S. Marshals Service in 1986 as a deputized court security officer at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
Herb Fame recruited at least five more Peacheses in subsequent years, including the first non-black Peaches. He continues to tour and perform with the Peaches du jour…
But he never quite matched the success of his run with Peaches #3, Linda Greene.