The making of demos has been a part of the music scene for a long time. Traditionally, struggling musicians make a tape or even scrape together the funds to go into a rental studio and make a record, and then go around trying to impress radio stations and/or major record companies, hoping to jump-start a career.
Sometimes a demo worked a little differently. Independent songwriters and record producers would hire lesser-known musicians to make a demo of a song, hoping to then sell the piece to big-name performers. But in at least one case, the demonstrators ended up becoming the stars, with a song that became the ultimate teen anthem.
When the Angels hit the top of the charts in 1963 with “My Boyfriend’s Back,” the trio — which at that time included Peggy Santiglia with sisters Barbara and Phyllis Allbut — had already been around a while. Originally formed by the Allbut sisters and Linda Jansen, the New Jersey-based group had turned out a few successful songs of its own, including Cry, Baby, Cry” and “‘Til.”
Just about the time Santiglia replaced Jansen and gave the group a little more edge to its sound, the girls were offered the chance to record a new song. It was intended as a demo for the Shirelles, a group that was then riding high with a string of Top Ten records, but the Angels’ hard-driving, hand-clapping performance was irresistible. It was released to record buyers and soon shot to the top of the charts. It would go on to become one of the most-remembered songs of the era, and it generated a lot of versions by other groups (but not the Shirelles).
Although the Angels never hit the top of the charts again, the trio continued to sell a lot of records with songs like “Wow Wow Wee (He’s the Boy for Me)” and “Thank You and Goodnight.” In later years the group sang backup for a number of acts and eventually followed the same pattern as many others by making occasional appearances in ‘oldies’ revivals. Even now, the Angels continue to appear before fans from time to time.