The Delicates formed in South Central Los Angeles as the Darlenes after Richie Darlene Henderson, aka Darlene Walton, formed the group with Freddie Poole, Billie Rae Calvin, and Brenda Joyce. Discographers always lumped their recordings with a previous and more successful Delicates’ group that recorded on Unart, United Artists, Roulette, and possibly Celeste Records, but they were two separate entities. These Delicates recorded on Challenge, Soultown, and Pulsar Records. They signed their first contract while in junior high school after wowing ’em at Friday night Sock Hops, or Canteens as they were called in some areas.
Ex-Robin writer and producer H. B. Barnum acted as the liaison for their initial studio sessions. At the time, Barnum was busy arranging for Lou Rawls, Holland-Dozier-Holland, and others, producing the O’Jays on Imperial Records, and running Little Star Records, among other things. Barnum later managed the Honey Cone, the Sweet Inspirations, a later-day edition of the Toys, with original June Montero and two new members. The Toys’ project ended faster than the original Toys from New York, NY (who couldn’t get along). Bobby Sanders took over from Barnum and played a major role in the production of their recordings and subsequent deal with Challenge, a label that initially (1957-1958) was owned in part by TV cowboy Gene Autry; Autry sold his interest in 1958. Berry Gordy was also interested and had Frank Wilson and Hal Davis cut a demo on them entitled “Crying,” written by Davis and Vincente Love, but Motown only wanted Poole and the deal never materialized.
They debuted on Challenge late in 1964 as the Delicates with “I’ve Been Hurt” (written by Love) b/w “C’mon Everybody.” 1965 saw two final releases on Challenge: “I Want to Get Married,” a Bobby Sanders/Darlene Walton song, and “Stop Shovin’ My Heart Around” b/w “Comin’ Down With Love.” Nothing sold outside of Watts, so they left to kick off Sanders’ Soultown label with a reworking of “Stop Shovin’ My Heart Around” as “Stop Shovin’ Me Around.”
A final single on Pulsar Records, Sanders and Jerry Flanagan’s “I’ve Got a Crush on You” undersided by “You Said You Love Me,” ended the Delicates career as front-line recording artists, but opened the door for lucrative careers as session singers, particularly, Brenda Joyce and Billie Rae Calvin, who sang on the Four Tops’, Diana Ross’, and Edwin Starr’s recordings.