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Doris Troy passed away on the 16 February 2004 from emphysema in her Las Vegas home. Born Doris Higginson in New York City in 1937, she was a truly great soul singer and songwriter who shot to fame in 1963 with her top ten Atlantic smash Just One Look. She cut more soulful sides for the label: He Don't Belong To Me and Tomorrow Is Another Day are personal favourites. In 1964 her Whatcha Gonna Do About It single was a hit in the UK only and that as well as Just One Look were covered to great commercial success by the Hollies.

Around this time she visited the UK and enjoyed the Swinging London scene so much that she stayed on and recorded here frequently over the next ten years. Just prior to and during this fruitful period, Doris was regularly employed as a backing singer along with Cissy Houston, Judy Clay, Jean Carter and The Sweet Inspirations. These exceptionally talented girls worked out of the Brill Building and 1650 Broadway and appeared on many of the hits of the day. Scepter/Wand in particular employed them and Doris' distinctive vocal can be heard on Chuck Jackson's Tell Him I'm Not Home, echoing Chuck's chorus. Backing vocals were a staple throughout her career and she was famously employed on the Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall" album, among many others. Her next label was Calla for whom she recorded the Philly-produced Northern Soul classic I'll Do Anything, and then she moved on to Capitol Records for a great double sider, Face Up To The Truth / He's Qualified. Lack of commercial success Stateside saw her return to the UK in 1969 when she signed for the Beatles' Apple label. There she cut an album and several singles. Her signing was down to the group themselves who had been big fans of hers for years; in fact the whole of the UK pop scene seemed to be captivated by her talent and unaffected charm. After Apple she cut albums for the UK Mojo and People labels and staged concerts with gospel choirs that she had worked with throughout her music business career. Back in the States she enjoyed a brief period with RCA's Midland/Midsong International labels which saw two singles issued in 1976/77.

In the early 90s her sister Vy wrote a play about her career called "Mama I Want To Sing" which Doris performed in. When the show came to London's West End she acted her own mother's role and Chaka Khan, Deniece Williams and Mica Paris took the role of Doris at different times. The successful show ran for several months and stars such as Prince and Stevie Wonder turned up to see it and to meet the legend.

At this time I was running my fourth Cleethorpes Northern Soul weekender and had been let down by an act I had booked. I rang Doris cold and asked her if she could come up and help me out with a PA at the event. She agreed to it straight away (and very reasonably), even though it was on the only day she had off from her show. Her presence was tremendous and of course she was great with the fans. The meeting led to me working as her agent, when she decided to stay on in London after her show closed. She performed many jazz and supper clubs and did a full soul show at the 100 Club. Van Morrison came down to see her (as a fan), remembering her fondly from the 60s. She then appeared at another Cleethorpes weekender with full backing band and this was filmed by Channel 4 for a documentary they did about the event.

Bad health forced her to return to the States where she lived in New York with her sister Vy who is a much respected DJ over there. Eventually her health worries forced her to live in Las Vegas where the climate helped her breathing.

Doris was one of the most understanding and kind hearted people you could ever wish to meet. Her approachability often made you forget what a talented artist she was. She would treat each fan as graciously as each megastar who came to see her. And when she referred to her friends as "Baby, Baby, Baby", they always felt very special.

Ady Croasdell, Ace Records


E-mails received from the Soul mailing list:

Doris Elaine (what I always called her) inspired so many singers. We first met in London during those hazy, crazy days of the sixties. To me she was already a star”. She’d had hit records and successful cover versions of her songs. She knew just about everyone. Black, white, your colour or culture never mattered. Only, your talent and how to use it was important. We shared so many good times in the studio. Our first session was Dusty Springfield’s “Middle of Nowhere”. Our last “gigs” in France with Johnny Halliday will always be in my mind as that’s where we learned to speak a bit of French. Not bad for two (black) women from the ghettos of Harlem and Newark. We also spent many hours just talking about our childhood and how we wanted to make our families proud. I really could go on for a long time, but then, we all know what a beautiful lady she is, still. That beauty will never die. It’s so strange to think that I wont pick up the ‘phone and hear that high-pitched “hey, baby,baby”. I love you, Doris. - Madeline Bell

David, So sorry to hear of Doris' passing. What a wonderful, tenderhearted, generous and so talented woman. A gift to us all in so many ways. I'm at least glad to know she passed in her sleep, not in pain. My heart goes out to you as I know how much she meant to you. Sending lots of love from Sydney, where we're finishing our tour. - Bonnie Raitt

Dear David, So sorry to hear of Doris' passing. She was a wonderful talent and an obviously wonderful person. She will be greatly missed indeed. God bless you and keep on keeping - Susaye Greene

The world will somehow never quite the same without Doris. Just knowing she was somewhere on the planet filling those around her with positive thoughts and love made me feel all the better. Doris met me in the early 70's in London and started me singing on sessions with her. My confidence grew, knowing Doris had faith in me. The road she set me on led me to places and people I had only dreamed of - working with Marvin Gaye and Dusty Springfield, whose last months of life I did my best to ease. Doris, you are forever a part of me - .Simon Bell

So saddened to hear your news David..............Doris was a part of both our history and although I had not seen her for a good few years, I often thought about her, exchanged emails and could feel her warmth from this distance. I always felt we would meet again - maybe we will in the next life.........I look forward to the meantime, lots of love on your journey Doris. Enid G. Buckland-Evers (the first Doris Troy fan club president) With so many SOUL brothers & sisters from our era passing, it was particularly sad to hear of the passing of not only a wonderful talent, but a wonderful person such as dear Doris Troy. I was fortunate to be introduced to Doris at Cleethorpes and and the 100 Club in London, when I was lucky enough to be playing 60's soul as support to Doris' live show there. it was a privilege and a great honor to have been on the same bill as one of my idols. Doris was such a star, undoubtedly a supreme talent, who will be sorely she said to me in London that night...."baby, baby, baby.....that was some wonderful soul (music) you were playing there." I will never forget that moment, or that lady.......GOD BLESS DORIS TROY....... TJ

I am so sorry to hear of Doris' passing, but I prefer to believe that she's simply crossed over. I have enjoyed her music for years and I appreciate that you endeavor to keep us 'souled' up with information as well as the music of these wonderful artists. I've also read your book, The Soulful Divas-- it was outstanding. I loved getting insight into the careers and personalities of some of my favorite divas. Thank you for all your wonderful work. You're appreciated-- keep it up - Lynne Donaldson

I learnt yesterday about Doris Troy..And I'm very sad..she's one of my favourite female singer. I have her best of from Soul Classics,and I often listen ( and I know I'll keep on listening) to her beautiful and powerful voice...Lionel Boucoiran

David: I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of Doris Troy. I had the opportunity to meet her along with yourself back in the Summer of 1999 at the old A Different Light Bookstore at a book signing for "The Soulful Divas" here in NYC. I was moved by the day. You were both so warm and kind and the memories are priceless. I recall Ms. Troy telling me about the politics of show business and how the play "Mama, I Want To Sing" was based on her life. The lady spoke her mind! Hey, what can I say? I'm glad I had the chance to meet her, to talk to her, to laugh with her. It was priceless... Take care - Greg Hendricks

David - So, so sorry to hear this sad news. Doris was one of the "good guys", and a great friend to soul music in Britain - Geoff

Hi - I'm sending my condolences to you in loss of your friend. She was a beautiful person, whom I saw over and over in "Mama I want to sing'. May she now rest in peace in Heaven - Marlene

This is really , really sad news. Doris was one of my all time favourites in what I call my `second division`of soul ladies. Not that I mean that she was second rate , but that she never really got the full attention she deserved. Coincidentally in the latest Dusty Springfield Bulletin which I got today someone has written an article on Dusty`s influences and Doris is prominent with a nice little pic (from the Apple era!). I like to think of them sitting on a cloud somewhere having a jam session together . I saw Doris `live` twice once at the Rainbow Theatre-which was recorded for LP of course, and once in St.Paul`s Cathedral which was mind blowing. I shall put some of her discs on right away. Thanks for telling me so quickly. I hope she gets some proper obits in the press, which I shall forward to you. When one thinks , not only of her solo work, but also her backups on so many hits (Tell Him I`m Not Home springs to mind ) what a legacy she has left. Mama I Want to sing indeed!! Rest in peace Doris - Trevor

Sorry to hear about the passing of Doris Troy. I know she was a great friend of yours. I met her at the r&b foundation awards at Unidersal City. She was so sweet and so lovely!! I will let my readers know in Chicano Magazine in my next up-coming issue. Once again, sorry for your loss and also for her family. Take care and God Bless - Manuel Esparza

Dear David: I just heard through Eric LeBlanc of the death of your good friend Doris Troy. Please know that my thoughts are with you; this must be a very hard loss for you to bear. But at least, thanks to you and to your profile of her in your "Divas" book, she finally got some of the props she deserved. Best regards - Mary Katherine

Hi Dave: A very sad day reading this. Hope it was OK to mail the news on as she made so many soul fans on the Northern scene. Of course you will see I gave you full credit. A truly remarkable woman. - Mark Hanson

Mr. Nathan - So sorry to hear of another musical legend that has passed away. I own a copy of your book Soulful Divas and found the chapter on her very informative and through your eyes very personal. It seems lately you never hear about particular musicians unless they are in court, in jail, or have passed away. I have to admit I didn't know much about Doris Troy until I read your book on the Divas. That is one of the reasons I love your website because you learn about musicians and get a better understanding of their careers. I know you are treasuring those memories of her and you will continue on your knowledge of her music through your website and in your writings. Sincerely - Leon Petrossian

Dear David, May I say how sorry I was to read of the passing of Doris Troy. A larger than life lady in more ways than one and one I had the privilege of meeting once in London in the relatively early days of her career. I presume her death came as a great shock as I had not heard that she was previously suffering any kind of illness. I know that you were very close so please accept my personal condolences and, should you be in touch with her family, perhaps you would kindly pass my condolences to them too. Sincere best wishes - David Cole, In The Basement magazine

Doris was great, and still is because music never dies. God needed her by his side: one more angel in heaven - PJ

Very sorry to hear the passing of your good and close friend Doris. My heart goes out for you....Life is so temporary and precious. All we can do is to take advantage of the little time we have with friends, family and just be in the moment with them and visa versa. Peace - Fred Stepkin

David - only just picked up your 2 e-mails about the sad passing of Doris Troy. Just wanted to add my respects to those already expressed by others at the loss of a fine artiste and, although I didn't know her myself, from your own comments obviously a lovely lady. I still enjoy the "Best Of" Ichiban set you did on her a few years ago. I know that England played a special part in her career for a while so it's nice to send this message from the 'old country'. Best wishes to you - Pete "Vintage Soul" Nickols

David, I am still not quite able to believe the news about Doris "Just One Look" Troy, someone I loved and truly admired. One part of me is happy that she no longer has to suffer with all of her health problems, the tubes and the tanks, yet I will miss her cheerful, "hey girlfriend," no matter how bad she was feeling, that was always her hello to me. Just wanted you to know that it was Doris who sent me an autographed copy of your book, because she knew I couldn't afford it at the time, and she wanted me to read it, (especially her chapter! ) You were good to her, and good for her during many rough times, and she made sure that I knew that. Anyway, we know she is in good hands now, no more doctors, no more pain, and her voice and spirit is where it should be, as she makes her grand entrance singing with the celestial choir!.What A DIVA! My prayers, thoughts, and sincere sympathy is with her family at this time. All best to you - La'Verne Washington

Thanks David for letting me know about Doris Troy. The last time I saw her was in New Haven, CT when she played in her play, "Mama I Want To Sing." This was in 1984 and I was amazed at how far she's come. I think I even bought a record of her singing in that play back then. I can still remember when my mom bought "Just One Look" I think in 1963. I was a young kid then but I do remember that song and its one of my all time favs. Rest in peace Doris - Vincent

Dear David, My thought's and Prayers are with you and ALL close to Doris. Doris gave me and so many people so many years of joy through her music and her presence and will continue to do so. I will always, always hold her close to my heart. God Bless - Dean

A large shadow has descended upon all fans of Pink Floyd this week. It was with great sadness I reported the passing of Doris earlier in the week. I can only gain solace in the fact her beautiful work on the album Dark Side of the Moon will be heard and admired for many many years to come – Phil

About the Writer
David Nathan is the founder and CEO of and began his writing career in 1965; beginning in 1967, he was a regular contributor to Blues & Soul magazine in London before relocating to the U.S. in 1975 where he served as U.S. editor for the publication for several decades and began being known as 'The British Ambassador Of Soul.' From 1988 to 2004, he wrote prolifically for Billboard, has penned bios, produced and written liner notes for box sets and reissue CDs for over a thousand projects. He returned to London in 2009 where he has helped create Records as a leading reissue label.

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