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THE FLIRTATIONS were one of the more active all-girl R&B groups of the mid to late 60’s though they had to go pretty far from home to find their most lasting success. The group had started life as a quartet called the Gypsies, consisting of three sisters, Betty Pearce, Shirley Pearce and Earnestine Pearce and Viola Billups who worked for three years under that name. They changed their name to THE FLIRTATIONS in 1965 and they were signed to Josie Records that year. Their one release on the label CHANGE MY DARKNESS INTO LIGHT b/w NATURAL BORN LOVER, co-produced by JJ Jackson and Sidney Barnes was released in 1966 and they got one more single out on the Festival label.

In 1967 the Flirtations were in England where they found a fresh start as both a performing and recording act. American soul was going over in a serious way to the time in the UK and the group came to the attention of Decca Records producer Wayne Bickerton who signed the trip up. The Flirtations made their British recording debut with HOW CAN YOU TELL ME b/w SOMEONE OUT THERE in 1967 on the Parrot label. The group was shifted to the Deram Records label the following year and released a classic piece of late 60’s soul in NOTHING BUT A HEARTACHE. The group’s fortunes remained high for most of the next decade and they built up an especially fervent following in England.

The group left Deram after 1972 and signed with Polydor where they saw more success with their cover of Marvin Gaye’s LITTLE DARLING. Viola Billups left the Flirtations in 1974 to pursue a solo career and was replaced by Loretta Noble.

The group was still performing in the 80’s and beyond and saw a new single READ ABOUT IT issued on the Passion label in 1986. Viola and Earnestine performed together in public during March 2001 in England on the occasion of their former producer Sidney Barnes’ first concert tour of the UK. Like Barnes and like the Fascinations, the Flirtations have been idolized for years by Britain’s enthusiasts on the Northern soul scene.

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