ALREADY in the Guinness World Records as the longest-running female vocal group, The Three Degrees aim to keep going for years and make that record uncatchable.
That’s the word from original member Helen Scott, who insists that as long as crowds keep coming and her lungs keep belting out the hits, she’ll never retire.
And, as she points out, she is on a one-woman mission to remind the world that Philadelphia and Philly International played a major part in musical history.
“You know something? I don’t think Philadelphia gets the recognition it deserves,” says city native Helen.
“I think that’s because of the fact it was kind of parallel with Motown.
“We’ve done our first album in 25 years, and called it Strategy — Our Tribute To Philadelphia, featuring some Philadelphia classics like Love Train, Disco Inferno and Me And Mrs Jones.
“Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff were the owners and produced almost 100% of the songs, and they were musicians before Philly International started. They worked with us on early records.
“Unfortunately, Motown just got a jump on Philly, and sometimes when someone comes in and puts their stamp on music, the other people don’t get the recognition they deserve.
“Kenny and Leon weren’t in the media eye, and that was their choice, and it was only a few years ago that I realised not everybody knew who they were.”
If she is determined to set the record straight about one of the world’s great record companies, Helen was also keen to set foot once again in the UK.
“Everyone always tells us that we are Prince Charles’ favourite group!” she laughs.
“But you do think, well, who said that? I don’t know that he ever did.
“Meeting Prince Charles was one of the highlights of our career. I’d like to think one of his, too!
“We invited him on stage and the press named it the Royal Boogie.
“Meeting Princess Diana was a great personal honour for me, because I definitely thought she was the People’s Princess.”
One of our kings of comedy, too, enchanted Helen and the girls — a certain goofy chap in a fez going by the name of Tommy Cooper was The Three Degrees’ cup of tea.
“That is a fond memory, because it was my first time in England,” Helen admits.
“It took me a minute to get a hold of the humour, but he was just a funny man, an entertainer who really didn’t have to say a word.
“He had the body language, the whole thing, and I think he summed up English humour. I think Tommy was the poster boy for comedy in Britain!”
Proud of Philadelphia and its record label, Helen is equally proud of the standard of her show, which includes their biggest hit — 1974 No 1 When Will I See You Again.
“People will come out to see you if they are curious, if they heard the new album, if they know you from years ago,” she points out.
“We have a good percentage of people who come back to see us time and time again.
“That’s because we do pride ourselves on it and strive to make it as close to perfect as possible.”
And that’s why they have done it for longer than any other girl group.
The Three Degrees’ UK dates include October 9 — Newport Riverfront, October 10 — Tunbridge Wells Assembly Hall and October 15 — Holmfirth.
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