Reminiscing with St Albans 60s harmony group The Carolines

PUBLISHED: 17:09 13 June 2019 | UPDATED: 17:09 13 June 2019

The Carolines in 1953/4 with their grandfather. Picture: Submitted

The Carolines in 1953/4 with their grandfather. Picture: Submitted


One of the St Albans sisters who were thrust into the limelight as a three piece teenage harmony backing group during the swinging 60s has looked back on their incredible career.

Carolyne, of The Carolines, now enjoys beauty pagents. Picture: Submitted by Carolyne MartinCarolyne, of The Carolines, now enjoys beauty pagents. Picture: Submitted by Carolyne Martin

Twins Carolyne and Helen Samuels, and their younger sister Marion Samuels, were taught three part harmony from a young age by their father - who Carolyne described as a "brilliant pianist".

Living in a house on Sandridge Road and attending what is now Beaumont School, the trio were already entering talent shows at just 13 years old as The Samuels Sisters.

A big break came in 1963, after the family answered an advert in The Stage magazine for exactly their brand of harmony group.

Carolyne, who is now 70, recalled: "We were very nervous. It was only years later that I realised it could have been a bit more exciting."

The Carolines with Tony Blackburn and New Seekers at Christian Aid Week. Picture: SubmittedThe Carolines with Tony Blackburn and New Seekers at Christian Aid Week. Picture: Submitted

This kick started a star-studded career under a new name - The Carolines - which saw the sisters release two singles with record company Polydor, Love Made a Fool of Me and Give Me Time.

The Carolines sit alongside a host of celebrities who have been on Polydor's books, including Take That, Sting, The Rolling Stones, Jax Jones, Ellie Goulding, and Kendrick Lamar.

Carolyne said her name is a coincidence: "[Our manager] changed our name because he felt it was more commercial - Radio Caroline was around at the time so that went hand in hand. It was a better name."

Partnering up with a Hatfield group called The Tudors, Carolyne said The Carolines came third place in a Melody Maker National Beat Contest in the summer of 1965.

The Carolines, as they are today. Picture: SubmittedThe Carolines, as they are today. Picture: Submitted

Carolyne, Marion and Helen recently reunited with The Tudors at St Michael's Manor, after the sisters placed an advert in the Daily Mail.

She chuckled: "Everything comes back to St Albans in the end!"

A highlight of The Carolines' career came in 1966, when she said they performed to 10,000 people at a Christian Aid Week fundraising concert in Trafalgar Square.

Carolyne said they also reached the grand final of a talent competition at The London Palladium in 1971.

The Carolines grew up in St Albans. Picture: SubmittedThe Carolines grew up in St Albans. Picture: Submitted

She recalled bumping into David Bowie, who she believes took an interest in them because they were twins: "We were coming out of a club and we bumped into David Bowie with his red hair. He called to Marion and then walked on."

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During the group's career, The Caroline's backed numerous big name popstars, including The Pioneers, Joe Cocker, PJ Proby and Tony Christie.

In an interview with the Sunday Citizen in 2002, Carolyne discussed the group's success: "One of the reasons we got booked quickly was because we were natural harmony singers and we knew each other. So they knew there would be no fall outs because we were a sister group.

"I think we felt safe together. We had loads of fun and giggled a lot."

Both Carolyne and her sister Marion met their future partners - Colin Martin and Rob Harridence - in the same disco.

It foreshadowed the group's eventual split, which came when Carolyne moved to Johannesburg with Colin in 1973.

She explained: "In 1973 there were a lot of strikes, it was a bit unstable, so we decided to go to South Africa and start a new life."

However, the singer continued to record backing in South Africa and wrote the B-side to an album by Clout called Substitute.

Reuniting with her sisters in 1998, Carolyne said they got to the semi-finals of popular singing contest Stars in Their Eyes as The Beverley Sisters.

Since then, Helen has retired and Marion sings with award winning Hemel Hempstead vocal group Just Acapella.

Carolyne has ventured into other careers, bagging multiple beauty queen titles and modelling on ITV's This Morning.

She said: "I am the outgoing one, the flirty one.

"I am the one that loves to glam up, with the eyelashes and everything, and that has continued into adulthood."

She encouraged everyone to follow their dreams: "I want to show everyone how one career can go into others and it shows you can start and do anything, age doesn't matter."

Carolyne, who has three children and four grandchildren, now lives in Knutsford in Cheshire.

She plans on moving back to Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire later this year, and travelling to America to pursue beauty queen pageants across the pond.

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