February 26, 2009

JBB EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Peggy Santiglia Davison of The Angels–Part Two!

February 26th, 2009

Photos courtesy of TheAngelsOnline.com

We’re excited to post Part Two of Peggy Santiglia Davison’s JBB EXCLUSIVE Interview! In Part Two, Peggy talks about her music career following The Angels, reuniting with the group, her excitement about the resurgence of “Beggin’,” a song she co-wrote with Bob Gaudio, The Angels’ new recording, and more!

JBB: What did you do following your time with The Angels?

PSD: During my time away from the group, I recorded and worked with various singers and producers. I’m not totally clear on the order, but I toured and recorded with the Serendipity Singers, replacing one of the two female members. I know there were still some original male members in the group at that time. We did one-night college concerts all over the country. They were acoustic players and pop folk music types, so I was singing songs way out of my field and that was very interesting. I was considered a rock singer and I believe my voice, although not as lead, helped to build a bit of a bridge going forward for them. I recorded one album with them, but by then, only about half of the group was original. We met while I was performing at The Bitter End in NYC with a wonderful light jazz trio singing what I would call a light rock blues mix. I appeared with Jose Feliciano, comedian David Steinberg, and others.

I don’t think I have to say that the Village was a very interesting place then. So many comedians, musicians and singers who went on to be super famous hung around that Greenwich Village neighborhood then. While I was performing at The Bitter End, before leaving to tour with the Serendipity Singers, I was in the studio recording for Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe. I believe the first record was called “Snowman” and I was billed as Peggy Sans, which was short for my family name Santiglia (sahn teel ya). I remember that originally, Bibs and Jiggs were on the record with me. Later, Denise Ferri and Bernadette Carroll sang with me. Although they did not all sing together, I think Bob may have used both versions together, because when I listen to that song, I think I can hear some of all four of their voices.

JBB: These stories from Greenwich Village and the recording studio are really fascinating, Peggy. What happened after those days?

PSD: Denise, Bernie, and I also recorded for Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio on Dyno Voice Records as “Jessica James and The Outlaws.” I don’t know what made me think of that name, but I just loved it. Check out the CD titled, “Bob Crewe Presents the Dyno Voice Story.” There are three Jessica James and the Outlaws’ recordings on it, one of which I wrote with Bob (Gaudio) called “Give Her Up Baby.” I still love those productions and often hear from fans in the UK asking about them, since our group and those recordings are now considered part of what is now known as Northern Soul.

Denise, Bernadette and I also backed up Lou Christie on his mega hit “Lightening Strikes.” Bernadette also sang one of the background parts on “Boyfriend” and many of our other early recordings. She replaced me for about a year in 1968 traveling with Barb and Jiggs and singing lead on a song that Neil Diamond wrote. There are details about her solo career, as well as Denise’s, on the website they share called Jersey Girls Sing. It is really interesting to note how many of us, male and female, started in New Jersey as boy and girls.

I was also in the studio singing backup with Bibs and Jiggs for so many artists. I wish I had some of the demos we did for Neil backing his early songs. We did lots of sessions with Jean Thomas, a talented singer song writer and Toni Wine, also one of my favorites. On our site, TheAngelsOnline.com, I’m fairly sure we list some of the well-known artists whose recordings had our Angel sound in the background; there are just too many to mention here.

Some of the more difficult studio work which entailed flawless reading wouldn’t have worked without Bibs, since she was the musician and that helped us get the songs done in a timely and professional manner. Bibs was really the founder and back bone of The Angels and made sure we all knew our parts. When Bibs left, we replaced her for a while, but it never felt quite right, so Jiggs and I keep our career going many years as a duo after she left. We just didn’t feel right about replacing her. We are a trio again with Karalyn Hugo, who is Jiggs’ daughter and Bibs’ niece. Bibs Brown continues to be an important part of The Angels behind the scenes as producer of our new CD, “Love The Angels.”

JBB: Peggy, your post-Angels time in the ‘60s as a singer must have been amazing! What happened with you in the ‘70s?

PSD: At some point in the early to mid 70’s I recorded as Dusk, the female counterpart to Dawn. I was already reunited with The Angels, but we gave each other space to do some extra bits on the side. Bibs and I had done some back up demo work for the now late producer and original Tokens member Hank Medress on his Tony Orlando demo recordings. I love Tony; he is one great entertainer, and I always wish him the best. It would be so much fun to work with him again.

One of my Dusk sides called, “I Hear Those Church Bells Ringing,” did reach around the Top 50 nationally and reached the Top 20 in many secondary markets. The first Dusk record was “Angel Baby” and the arrangement is so similar to Tony’s “Knock Three Times,” which makes sense since it had the same writers, producers and most of the same studio players and singers. My favorite Dusk side is “Point Of No Return,” which may or may not have been released at that time. I mention this, because most serious collectors prefer finding an artist’s more obscure recordings rather than the more obvious ones. “He Is the Kissin’ Kind” and our version of “You’re All I Need To Get By” are two of my favorite lesser known Angel recordings.

JBB: What happened after Dusk?

PSD: I’ve sung lead many times under many group names, but the only time I ever recorded under my own name as a solo artist, using my family name Santiglia, was with Billy Terrell. The EP titled “Fantasia” had a definite disco Latin dance vibe to it and was released on T K Disco; I loved it. It got some very good reviews, but unfortunately at the time, no one connected my name as the lead singer of The Angels until much after the fact. Much later, one reviewer mentioned that it would have garnered more interest if that link had been made.

Billy also recorded us on a version of “Boyfriend” and a dance version of “‘Til,” which we used as an uplifting ending to our current CD, “Love, The Angels.” Barb and Jiggs originally recorded and had a hit with “‘Til” during the first year of the group when it was a ballad and Linda Jansen sang lead. A cousin of mine through marriage, Lynda Malzone, who used to be with Bibs and Jiggs as The Starlets, sang one of the background parts on “‘Til,” but as far as I know, did not tour with them that time. The version of “Til’” featuring my voice on lead was probably done in the 70’s based on the dance style. I think on the CD, we say 80’s, but Billy told me recently that it was before that and he would know best. Billy Terrell is still in the recording business working with lots of well-known artists in pop and country. It would be great to work with him again someday.

JBB: When did you reunite with The Angels?

PSD: I think we reunited around 1969 at least that’s when Bibs and I began to talk about getting involved with the big rock and roll revival shows. In a short time, Jiggs came back, but right then she was at home raising her first baby girl Karalyn. Toni Mason, who had filled in for me, now would fill in for Jiggs. Toni had a great look and a unique sultry voice. She had previously recorded and toured with Bibs and Jiggs as The Haloes and worked with two out of three of us a lot. I never worked with Debbie Swisher, who I believe, was the first one to replace me beginning the three or four years when I left.

Jiggs and I enjoyed a brief stint with Lana Shaw (now Levine). I met her when we were both in The Serendipity Singers. Lana did our “Sha Na Na” TV appearance with us and that was the first time we met Jon Bauman, AKA Bowzer. Obviously, I’m not the expert on who did what and everything that took place while I was not with The Angels, but Bibs and Jiggs shared that info on our site, so I’m sure they are correct.

JBB: You co-wrote “Beggin’”—truly one of my favorite Four Seasons’ hits—with Bob Gaudio. What inspired you to write the song?

PSD: I have to give Bob Gaudio all the credit for anything I wrote with him. It was so long ago, but I seem to remember he would have much of the tune and the idea for where he wanted the lyrics and arrangement to go. When I co-write, I use my voice as my instrument to contribute to the music and lyrics just come tumbling out. Maybe it’s easy for me since I do also write poetry. You just know when something should remain prose and not turned into a song and the opposite is true as well. I’ve never been a prolific writer since I have never been able to approach it as work. To just sit down and try to plan to compose something commercial is not for me. I need inspiration and I have long periods of time between inspirations because I’m happy living life rather than writing about it. I have a couple of songs on our new CD and Jiggs and Stan do too, but Bibs who co-produced it, is a talented and diligent writer. Many of her songs are on the album and they are so good.

JBB: Forty years later, “Beggin’” has EXPLODED—in Jersey Boys, a re-edited version was a big hit in the UK, then as a smash hit by the Norwegian hip hop group Madcon, and now in an Adidas commercial! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the resurgence of this great song! What do you think makes people connect to “Beggin’” 40 years later?

PSD: I’m sure I don’t need to say that I’m thrilled “Beggin’” is one of the songs in Jersey Boys. As you know, it’s not one of the performance songs, but it used in a clever way to move the plot. How many ways can you say unbelievable! After so many years to have one of the songs that I co-wrote which wasn’t one of the Seasons’ bigger hits to end up getting so much recognition, is just fantastic. I honestly think the fact that when it made the charts, when it didn’t really fit the typical 4 Seasons hit formula, helped its comeback in today’s market. I only found out that it was a hit in Norway and the UK because one of Bob Gaudio’s daughters, Danielle Gaudio-Lalehzar, told me about it. I think her idea for the CD “Jersey Babys” was great. I’ve given it to many of my friends. It’s the perfect gift for families with babies or young children. Madcon’s version is updated and gritty; I love it. I’ve only seen the Adidas commercial on YouTube, but of course I’m very happy about that, too.

JBB: Your new CD, “Love, The Angels” is terrific! The CD contains some vintage cuts and some brand new surprises, including of course, “My Boyfriend’s Back” and an amazing version of “Beggin’”! We’d love to find out about what it was like for you to be in the recording studio again!

PSD: Thanks so much Susie. I’m so glad you like our version of “Beggin’.” It was lots of fun updating “Boyfriend,” too. Our guitar player and conductor Stan Sirico contributed so much to all our songs, but he did some amazing work on these two. We shared leads on the CD for the first time, which I think made it very interesting.

JBB: You’ve had an extraordinary music career over the last four decades and now, a new recording! What’s next for you and The Angels?

PSD: We were recently inducted in the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, which meant a lot to us. It was so much fun spending time with so many of our long time show biz buddies. It was quite a reunion. We sang and played and talked to each other way into the wee hours on the last night, and I can’t tell you how wonderful it was. As for the future, of course we hope lots of folks will visit our site: TheAngelsOnline.com , download or buy our CD and that we continue to have opportunities to perform and meet new and longtime fans all over the country.

JBB: Peggy, thank you so much for taking the time for such a fascinating interview! It’s been wonderful to talk with you about your amazing journey with The Angels and your entire music career!

PSD: Susie, thanks so much for the interesting and thoughtful questions; keep up the good work!


  1. Part 2 of Peggy’s interview was every bit (if not more) as interesting as Part 1. Really enjoyed reading about her entire music career and her talents not only as a singer, but a songwriter. Thank you!

    Comment by Judy — February 27, 2009 @ 10:08 am

  2. Recently, whenever I read descriptions of the 1960s songwriting and recording sessions like Peggy Santiglia has described, I am reminded of the recent movie, “Music and Lyrics” starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. Outside of performing piano and woodwind instruments, studying some music theory, and putting a few short piano compositions on the musical staffs in my younger years, I am an outsider to this process. But the writing of music and lyrics in this movie seems quite plausible. I’m curious if people like Peggy, actually in the music and recording business, feel that the movie “Music and Lyrics” is a fairly accurate depiction of the process.

    Comment by Ted Hammond — February 27, 2009 @ 1:27 pm

  3. After seeing Jersey Boys, I always wanted to find out more about the girls behind “My Boyfriend’s Back”. I really enjoyed reading about The Angels and Peggy Santiglia Davison’s life in music.

    Comment by Pat — March 1, 2009 @ 2:13 am

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