11 August 2005

Shelley Pinz

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.mp

Label scan from Margaret G. Still


J. said...

I always assumed "Green Tambourine" was an awkward drug reference!

Lyn Nuttall said...

Didn't we all!

Anonymous said...

Shelley was one of the most caring people I have ever met...

Neil Sheppard said...

Shelly and I met through a mutual friend. I was a songwriter. Shelly said it was also her interest. I brought her around the publishers in the Brill Bldng & introduced her, thinking it can't hurt! A year later she was on the charts! We became fast close friends. She was a breath of fresh air, quirky witty, vivacious, bright, a loving person with a deep, sweet soul! I just thought of contacting her after many years. I'm shocked & saddened by her passing. If someone can fill me in on her recent years please drop me a line. nsheppard@nyc.rr.com
Neil Sheppard

Anonymous said...

I met Shelley while I was a student at St. John's University and was living on Coronado Street in Atlantic Beach in the early
70's. Sorry to hear of her passing. I can't seem to find much about her life on the internet outside of "Green Tambourine". Can anyone enlighten me with a biography and a few pictures?


Lyn Nuttall said...

Just about everything I know about Shelley is written here.

Anonymous said...

My Name is Robert Oro. I knew Shelly for 15 years. We colaborated on writing one Song together Titled The More That I Need on Fever Records. I lost touch with her afer she moved off Long Island. I am only learning of her passing now. I Just had to say she was a wonderful person and extremely talented composer,She will be missed by everyone who know her.

Jim Feith said...

Back in the mid to late 70's, I worked for Shelley's father. He owned a scrap metal company in Brooklyn and in his office, on the walls was all these what appeared to be gold and platinum records. I noticed they were from the Lemon Pipers hit song Green Tamborine. I asker why he had them and he simply said "My daughter wrote the song", very sorry to hear of her passing.

Anonymous said...

I met Shelley through very unusual circumstances in the 90's ... I also visited her in her home in Atlantic Beach, and, she came to my house with her Mom in Jamaica Estates ... we took a trip to Arizona together ... she was a good friend, and I had no idea of her passing, as I have tried to reach her many times over the years. SO SAD, she was great, so caring, especially for her pets, MISS YOU SHELLEY, I will pray for you xxxxx Love, NANCY

Ed Bettega said...

here's another one from Australia -
“Shoeshine Boy” - The Affair
composed by Paul Leka / Shelly Pinz
produced by Pat Aulton

Shoeshine Boy, shining your shoes for a dime
no-one ever seems to have any time
for a shine

Shoeshine Boy helps his mother pay the rent
every hour of the day is well meant
earn a cent

He’s just a shoeshine boy, just a Shoeshine Boy
he’s just a boy

Early in the morning, when everyone is sleeping,
all snuggled up in their beds, the Shoeshine Boy comes by a creeping
down the stairs, into the hallway
hurries through the back door, and rushes on his way
before the sun appears

Shoeshine Boy standing outside in the cold
the banker passes by, his shoes are old, very old

Shoeshine Boy there’s no one here to care,
People gather ‘round all they do is stare
it’s so unfair

Shoeshine Boy, shining your shoes for a dime
no-one ever seems to have any time
for a shine, for a shine

Shoeshine Boy, shining your shoes for a dime
no-one ever seems to have any time

Shoeshine Boy, just a Shoeshine Boy
Shoeshine Boy, just a Shoeshine Boy

Shoeshine Boy, just a Shoeshine Boy

Lyn Nuttall said...

Ed, thanks, that's a great find. I missed it somehow, but it was under my nose all along, on Disc 3 of "So You Wanna Be A Rock'n'Roll Star?". The original version was on the B-side of the Lemon Pipers' "Jelly Jungle (Of Orange Marmalade)". I'll write a page about it at the website. Cheers, Lyn.

Lyn Nuttall said...

Ed, here is my new page on "Shoeshine Boy" with acknowledgement to you: