Peaches & Herb are an American vocalist duo, once comprising Herb Fame (born October 1, 1942) and Francine “Peaches” Hurd Barker (April 28, 1947 – August 13, 2005). Herb has remained a constant in “Peaches & Herb” since its creation in 1966, while seven different women have filled the role of “Peaches.”
Herb Fame (born Herbert Feemster, October 1, 1942, in Anacostia, Washington, D.C.), sang in church and neighborhood groups as a child. After graduation from high school, he worked in a local record store where he met record producer Van McCoy and was signed to Columbia subsidiary Date Records by McCoy and A&R executive Dave Kapralik. Francine “Peaches” Barker (born Francine Edna Hurd, April 28, 1947, in Washington, D.C.), using the stage name Francine Day, started a singing trio initially dubbed The Darlettes and later renamed The Sweet Things after a change of record label to Date Records. Having produced two releases for the trio, McCoy decided to record Feemster/Fame and Hurd/Day together at Kapralik’s suggestion. The resulting single, “We’re in This Thing Together,” was distributed to radio stations but went nowhere for months until December 1966, when a St. Louis disc jockey broadcast the single’s B-side, a revival of the 1934 hit “Let’s Fall in Love.”
The new duo, christened “Peaches & Herb,” had a string of successful singles and albums over the next two years such as “Let’s Fall in Love,” “Close Your Eyes,” “For Your Love,” and “Love Is Strange.” Despite burgeoning success and a media image as the “Sweethearts of Soul,” Barker chose to semi-retire from the duo after two years because of the rigors of touring. Marlene Mack (aka Marlene Jenkins), who had sung on the Jaynetts’ hit “Sally Go ‘Round the Roses” and had recorded as Marlina Mars, replaced Barker on stage, but Barker remained on all of the duo’s recordings for Date Records. During this period, the semi-retired “Peaches” also worked as a solo artist using her married name, Francine Barker. She released three singles in total on the Columbia Records label, including “Angels in the Sky” and “Mister DJ.”
Fame retired the act in 1970 when, for personal reasons, he enrolled in the police academy of Washington, D.C. and thereafter joined the city’s police department. Peaches & Herb lay dormant until Fame decided to re-enter the music business in 1976. In his search for a new “Peaches,” Herb again enlisted the assistance of Van McCoy, who suggested that Linda Greene would be suitable for the position. Fame met Greene and concurred, thereby leading to formation of the most successful of the “Peaches & Herb” incarnations to date. Linda’s early musical training (while growing up in Washington, DC) was at The Sewell Music Conservatory.