A first cousin of Shelley Pinz emailed last week to tell me more about the New York songwriter, poet and psychotherapist, born in 1944, who died last year.
As a songwriter Shelley Pinz is probably best known for the Lemon Pipers' 1968 hit Green Tambourine, written with her frequent collaborator Paul Leka. They wrote some follow-ups in a similar vein, including Rice Is Nice, Jelly Jungle (Of Orange Marmalade) and Pink Lemonade. This was was when Pinz and Leka were writing pop songs for Buddah, the Kama Sutra label's spin-off, and they continued writing together into the 70s.
In Australia, two other Shelley Pinz songs surfaced through local cover versions in 1968. She and Paul Leka also wrote You Are The One I Love, originally by Adam's Apples [listen], covered here by The Groove, and she co-wrote Happy Without You (this time with Kenny Laguna), originally by The Sound Judgment [listen] but remembered in Australia as a classic oldie by The Strangers. Both songs charted in Melbourne - the base city of both bands - and in Brisbane.
As Rochelle Pinz (using her full given name), Shelley Pinz was a psychotherapist specialising in the use of music, art and poetry. She held a Masters degree in social work, and in the late 90s she published a volume of poetry and lyrics, Courage to Think. WoodstockLive has some notes about this (although the audio link didn't work for me).
The best account I’ve found about Shelley Pinz the songwriter is in her own words from 1999 at StocksandNews.com (archived page), where she recalls how she got into the business while she was still a poetry-writing college student.
She tells about the inspiration for Green Tambourine, just before meeting with Paul Leka in the Brill Building precinct of New York:
In early Spring, 1966, while standing in front of the Brill Building I watched a man holding a tambourine begging for money. I wrote a poem about him and called the poem, 'Green Tambourine.' I added it to my lyric collection…. Sometimes I wonder what happened to the man in front of the Brill Building, holding a tambourine begging for money. I remember writing the lyric, ‘watch the jingle jangle start to shine, reflections of the music that is mine. When you toss a coin you'll hear it sing. Now listen while I play my Green Tambourine’ as if it were yesterday..; in the 60s, on the streets between Seventh Avenue and Broadway there was a magic one could only imagine.Green Tambourine was a worldwide hit (#1 USA, Top 10 UK & Australia, #3 NZ), but Happy Without You and You Are The One I Love would be better known in Australia than in the US. The American originals are obscurities, although the Adam's Apples recording of You Are The One I Love has been given new currency by the Northern Soul movement.
Shelley Pinz is listed at BMI under four variations of her given name: Rochelle, Shelley, Shelly and Chele, but ‘Shelley’ seems to be the preferred spelling as a songwriting credit.
Adam's Apples - You Are The One I Love.mp3
The Sound Judgment - Happy Without You.mp3
Label scan from Margaret G. Still