11 August 2005

Shelley Pinz (Rochelle 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.

Update 7 March 2020:
Essential reading!

JCM, another friend of Rochelle 'Shelley' Pinz, has emailed his memories of her:

❝ I was in my mid teens in Atlantic beach when i and a friend met 'Shelley' ..we would shovel her snow & she'd invite us in and make us herbal tea. Some days, we'd stop by & say hello, she'd make us tea.. we were kids...to me, why not? I came from an abusive home and was out on streets most days/nights alone...i had music in my blood from early on and was just getting really into guitar and sound engineering (i was head audio visual student tech in hs by this time). She had even showed me her early patent designs for some really innovative electronic musical devices/interfaces way before they came into what we would probably refer to today as our DAWs. She was ahead of her time too. On some occasions, i'd go knock on her door during the day or even evening and she would invite me in and she knew i loved music and had ambitions and she'd let me noodle on her guitar and piano and we'd talk music and my dreams of becoming a musician, songwriter, and have my own studio someday. Just for me, she took me out for a surprise one night; i mustve been 17ish... i wont lie, she was the most BEAUTIFUL woman i ever saw ..secret crush on her i always had! She had the warmest face, the loveliest smile; i can still see it. Oh, the surprise, she took me to my first REAL recording studio! I was floored! I got the bug! Another time, we went to a friend of hers in the west end of long beach who had a recording studio...she told me to bring my guitar, which was an ovation deacon/breadwinner that i still have and play. I played as best i could then on a song part and left it at that. I was a nervous wreck then and didnt know nothing but loud and distortion. I have many fond memories of her; she asked to call her Rochelle. rather than her professional name(s). I know she had pictures of me shoveling her snow and some other in warmer times. i moved out on my own at 19 and sadly lost touch. When i finally did try and find her, i think she had moved by that point in time. As i grew up, becoming an audio visual engineer, sound engineer, multi instrumentalist, leader of my own long island hard rock band, i tried to find Rochelle. To no avail. Gave up looking. Then my day job was a computer engineer and the internet and this thing called a search engine came into being! Some time later, still involved with music, i looked for Rochelle again; this time, I succeeded, but sadly, the reply i got was that she had passed on. I CRIED.. she was SO KIND to me. Those years earlier, she told me what she saw, to keep going and never give up. I never gave up. I went searching for her to thank her, to show her what I became. Now with my own recording studio and putting out my own music. During a recent mixing/mastering session on a song, one that i put everything into, i dont know why, but at some final moment of working on this song, at the end of it, in a brief spot at the end, i just blurted out, in song voice, jubilantly, 'I DID IT'. It stayed in the recording. When that moment happened, I couldnt help but think of how proud Rochelle would have been to see what became of me. the song has nothing to do with her or about her; its actually a warewolf song. But i was so proud of hearing it when it was finished that i put in the songs liner notes, 'For R.Pinz, thank you'. I wish i could thank her, see her smile again, that beautiful glowing face. I'd blush like the teenage love struck boy i was in 1976/77. If I could, Id have said, 'Thank you Rochelle for inviting me into your home, inspiring me so much; I always wanted to let you know how much those little things you did musically for me set me on my musical journey. You never knew how important those times were to me; they were EVERYTHING.' I miss you. I wish i had a picture of her for my studio. If anyone ever comes here, if you have any pictures of her, please contact me. NO, i'm not a loon, she was very pivotal to my future and would like a picture of her for my studio wall because one should be hanging in it; I owe it to her memory.

Thank you Rochelle,


Adam's Apples - You Are The One I Love.mp3

The Sound Judgment - Happy Without You.mp

Label scan from Margaret G. Still, thank you.


J. said...

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

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:

Lyn Nuttall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adrianna said...

Happy 17th Anniversary my dear friend Chele Dancing up in Heaven with the Angels. Forever and ever in my heart. 💕🙏💕

Anonymous said...

She was the kindest person, a special individual extremely bright talented and had a heart of gold!

Anonymous said...

Happy Heavenly Birthday 💕💙💕

Anonymous said...

She was the very best! Beautiful inside and out..bright talented and kind, missed by anyone who knew her