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Passings: Darlene McCrea of the Cookies & Raelettes

The Cookies (c. 1956)
Darlene McCrea, a founding member of the Cookies and, later, Ray Charles' Raelettes, passed away on February 4 from cancer.

The Cookies were formed in 1954 with McCrea, Dorothy Jones and Dorothy's cousin, Beulah Robinson. Robinson was later replaced by Margie Hendricks. The group scored one hit, In Paradise, which went to number 9 on the R&B singles chart in 1956.

The group regularly did session work at Atlantic Records with artists like Laverne Baker, Big Joe Turner, Ruth Brown and Ray Charles. In 1958, McCrea and Hendricks left the group to form the Raelettes with Patricia Lyles and Gwendolyn Berry. While they were signed as a singles artist with Atlantic, they were best known in those early days as the backup voices on such Charles hits as Hit the Road, Jack and What'd I Say.

Meanwhile, Darlene's younger sister, Earl-Jean, joined the Cookies during the era when they hit with Chains and Don't Say Nothin' Bad (About My Baby). In 1964, Darlene returned to the group and stayed with them until 1967 when they made their last recording.