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Clockwise from top - Lezli Washington, Yvonne Bushnell, Ethel Davis
The Jaynetts, from The Bronx, NY, recorded one of the more discussed recordings of all time, the mystical-sounding "Sally Go Round the Roses," which shot to number two on the pop charts in 1963.
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Members: (1961- 64)
     Ethel Davis
     Louis Harris
     Selena Healy
     Marie Hood
     Adie Ray Kelly
     Marlina Mars
     Lezli Valentine
     Mary Green Wilson
     Iggy Wilson
          Evangeline Jenkins
          Linda Jenkins
          Georgette Malone
          Johnnie Louise Richardson
          Dianne Pratt

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Zell Sanders

The Jaynetts were a female R&B group from the Bronx formed by producer/composer J & S Records label owner Zelma "Zell" Sanders The Jaynetts were really more a studio concoction than a group. In fact, the three women in the usual Jaynetts publicity photo may not even be the Jaynetts that recorded the song. There were at least five female vocalists on the date the song was recorded-- Johnnie Louise Richardson, Ethel Davis, Mary Sue Wells, Yvonne Bushnell, and Ada Ray.

"Zell wanted another Girl group in addition to The Hearts because the "on leave" ladies were returning  and she didn't want anyone stranded. She said to me, "Leslie, give me a name." I said "J" for J&S, and Ayetts for my middle name, Anetta. I had no idea she would use it. I had given Zell the name several years. "Jaynetts" several years prior to her releasing "Sally".
Lezli Valentine

Sanders who had recorded the Hearts as a group and was looking to form a second group to absorb some of the Hearts' overflow members. Thus, some of the Hearts became to be Jaynetts after the Jaynetts name went unused for five years.

Johnnie Louise Richardson and Joe Rivers

Sanders who was living in the Bronx in 1963, was producing Rita Zell and Clarence Ashe as well as managing  Johnnie and Joe, Johnnie was her daughter. She had a few short lived labels, Scatt Dice, and Argyle. She had the Hearts but the group had splintered.

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Justine "Baby" Washington

The first Jaynetts single under the group's name was "I Want To Be Free" in 1958 was actually from Baby Washington and the Hearts 1957

Sanders used the Jaynetts to put out two unreleased songs by the Hearts from 1957. The record, "I Want To Be Free/Where Are You Tonight" was released on J&S as the Jaynetts putting together a new group of Hearts in 1958. The name wouldn't be used again for five years.

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J&S Records had its first national success in 1961 with The Corsairs' hit "Smoky Places" which reached #12 in March 1962. In 1963 Spector had Zell Sanders assemble the line-up to cut a girl group record, and Spector's wife Lona Stevens wrote "Sally Go 'Round the Roses" with Sanders for this purpose. Spector spent about a week creating "Sally Go Round the Roses". The record was based on the nursery rhyme "Sally Go 'Round The Roses. The mystifying lyrical ambiguity of "Sally" would culminate in the creation of a rock and roll classic. The record reached #6 in New York in the fall of 1963, as well as  #2 on tne Billboard Top 100 September 28, 1963.

The credited members of the Jaynetts who recorded "Sally Go 'Round the Roses" were Yvonne Bushnell, Ethel Davis (aka Vernell Hill), Ada Ray Kelly and Johnnie Louise Richardson.   Vocalist who also sang but uncredited were Selena Healey, Marie Hood, Marlene Mack (aka Marlina Mack/Marlina Mars), Louise (Harris) Murray, Lezli Valentine and Iggy Williams.

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The single's success led to the release of a Sally Go 'Round the Roses album on Tuff; besides the title cut, in both the vocal and instrumental versions, and the follow-up single "Keep an Eye on Her" "bubbled under the Hot 100" in November 1963. The album featured "Archie's Melody", "Bongo Bobby", "I Wanna Know", "No Love At All", "One Track Mind", "Pick Up My Marbles", "School Days" and "See Saw"; also featured as "A Special Guest Appearance" was "Dear Abby" credited to the Hearts, a minor hit (#94) recorded by at least some of the same personnel as "Sally Go 'Round the Roses", and with the same "Sing Along without the..." instrumental-only version on the B-side. Despite the Jaynetts having been promoted as a quintet, their album cover image was of a trio, only two of whom—Ethel Davis and Lezli Valentine—are identifiable. Lezli is the lead voice on "Sally" and she performed the spoken part on "Dear Abby".


All female group singles on Tuff were recorded by a group of women taking turns in the studio, with three as the tour group. The core was Lezli Valentine, Louis Harris and  Marie Hood. Fill-ins come from among other women in the group

Disgusted with her acts  and the lack of attention her records were getting Zell moved her operation to upstate Taryton, New York in 1965. She produced Johnnie Louise  and a the Jaynetts with a group from Tarrytown, Linda Jenkins, Evagiline Jenkins, Dianne Pratt and Georgette Malone.

Follow up singles on Tuff, "Keep An Eye On Her," "Snowman, Snowman," and Sweet Potato Pie" failed to chart and Chess and Specor lost interest. Zell moved her J&S Records to upstate New York in 1965 and releases five more singles by the Jaynetts featuring her daughter Johnnie Richardson.

"What happened was that Abner Spector was an electronics nut. He took the girls in the studio on a Friday, and they didn't get out of there until everybody was on the track. Anybody that came in the studio that week, he would put them on. Originally, I think he had about 20 voices on 'Sally.'" The cost of the project alone, Richardson figured was over $60,000 - an unheard of amount of money to spend on recording a pop single in 1961.
Johnnie Richardson

After her time with The Jaynetts, Lezli Valentine went into the ministry. Marie Hood moved to  the Midwest and went to work for the United States Post Office. Marlina Mars became Marlina Mack. Louise Murray married, settled in Manhattan and raised a family.

Failing health would cause Sanders  to leave the business. She moved to Albany, New York. She passed away in St. Barnabus Hospital 1n 1976.

Sally, Go 'Round The Roses was reprised by Grace Slick & the Great Society just prior to her joining the Jefferson Airplane.

Zelma Sanders passsed away in St. Barnabus Hospital in New York in 1976.
Johnnie Louise Richardson suffered a stroke and died on October 25, 1988, she was 49.
Lezli Valentine died on March 9, 2021.

Sally Go Round the Roses

Sally go 'round the roses. (Sally go 'round the roses.)
Sally go 'round the roses. (Sally go 'round the pretty roses.)
The roses, they can't hurt you. (No, the roses, they can't hurt you.)
The roses, they can't hurt you. (No, the roses, they can't hurt you.)

Sally don't cha go, don't cha go downtown.
Sally don't cha go, don't cha go downtown.
The saddest thing in the whole wide world is
To see your baby with another girl.

Sally go 'round the roses. (Sally go 'round the roses.)
Sally go 'round the roses. (Sally go 'round the pretty roses.)
They won't tell your secrets. (They won't tell your secrets.)
They won't tell your secrets. (No, the roses won't tell your secrets.)

Sally, baby, cry, let your hair hang down.
Sally, baby, cry, let your hair hang down.
Sit and cry where the roses grow, you can sit and cry, not a soul will know.

What about the songs cryptic interpretation?

"Sally, Go Round the Roses" is a timeless wonder of a song featuring an odd hypnotic rhythm and soft voices seductively rising and falling. The lyrics seem to potray Sally in an alluring bed of roses, catching an eyeful of her lover with another.

Another interpretation of this song is Sally a "closeted" lesbian who sees her "baby" also female with "another girl" which is the "saddest thing in the whole wide world" except perhaps being a lesbian in 1963. The roses "won't tell her secret" Of course her "secret" is her homosexuality and she has no one to confess it to, but the roses where she "can sit and cry, not a soul will know."

"Sally Go Round the Roses" very poignantly describes the way lesbians must have felt back in the early 60's when must of them felt that they had to hide their sexual orientation.

Another interoperation is the following. "Baby" to refer to a guy was typical of lots of girl-group recordings (e.g. "Be My Baby"). Sally had just lost her virginity to the guy and now he's with another girl.

Others think the song is about a religious experience, or possibly a mental breakdown.

It has been said "Sally, Go Round the Roses" was derived from English folk music. Others say it it was Black jump rope or jacks playing rhyme.

Information on this page taken from a discussion from rec.music.rock-pop-r+b.1960s

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