#29: Mr. Special by the Allan Sisters

City: Halifax, NS
Radio Station: CHNS
Peak Month: December 1964-January 1965
Peak Position in Halifax ~ #10
Peak position in Vancouver ~ did not chart
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube: “Mr. Special

The Allan Sisters were from Edmonton, Alberta. Jackie started singing at the age of 7, and Coralie took up singing soon after. The sisters were billed in Edmonton as the Allan Sisters. They were part of a group named the Four Tops, years before the Motown group of the same name began making hit records. RPM magazine describes the transition they made from Edmonton to Ontario. “The girls left their home in Edmonton to give show business a whirl in Upper Canada. They were part of a group called the Four Tops, but after many disappointments the group broke up and the Two Tops left and became the successful Allan Sisters.” RPM details how the sisters were discovered in talent scout Art Snider, who was also the music director for the CBC variety show Country Hoedown.

Aaron Lusch wrote one of the few articles online about the Allan Sisters on the citizenfreak website. Lusch explains, the sisters first single was with Shell Records, a US label. “They were billed on the label of their lone 45 for the company as “the Allen Sisters” rather than “The Allan Sisters.” Their debut recording “Larry” was released in June 1964.

Mr. Special by the Allan Sisters

“Larry” peaked at #35 on both CHUM in Toronto and CHIQ in Hamilton. Aaron Lusch states that “this minor success gave them the cushioning to start their professional career.” On the RPM Singles chart, “Larry” peaked at #23. Lusch adds, “From the start, Art and Jackie began a courtship that would quickly turn into marriage. They would go on to have 3 children before the end of the 1960’s.”

The single stalled in the Top 40 due to the the British Invasion and Beatlemania. The British Invasion saw the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Zombies, the Kinks, the Dave Clark Five, Herman’s Hermit’s, the Animals, Cilla Black, Sandie Shaw, Dusty Springfield, Marianne Faithful, Petula Clark, the Swinging Blue Jeans and others edge out American and Canadian recording artists aiming for a number-one or Top Ten hit.

RPM reported that “Art was sure he had a couple of winners with these two personable gals. Through his many associates in England, he made arrangements to take the gals to England for their next recording session. From the tight little Isle came a sound never before heard in Canada. With “Mr. Special” Art Snider was the first Canadian producer with the Allan Sisters the first Canadian singers to ever record a session in England.”  Also with Art Snider and the Allan Sisters was Canadian recording artist Pat Hervey, who was also in the recording studio in England.

RPM reports that “While in England for their session, they managed to make a tour, the length and breadth of the now very popular hub of the world music industry. Wherever they went in England they were received with great enthusiasm.

The Allan Sisters returned home to Canada in early November 1964. Aaron Lusch notes “On November 30th an official press release (announced) that “Mr. Special” had hit store shelves.

Mr. Special by the Allan Sisters

In the lead to the release of “Mr. Special”, the Allan Sisters appeared on The Tommy Hunter Show on November 11, 1964. They also appeared at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto on November 20th, at a Music Hop in Toronto on December 3rd, and at a club called the Nite Cap on December 7th. The ACT (All Canadian Talent) record label announced that “Mr. Special” was “destined to be the next Canadian hit.” “Mr. Special” is a song about a gal who is in love with Mr. Special, and wants the whole world to know.

“Mr. Special” was credited to the obscure Johnny Angel. “Mr. Special” peaked at #10 in Halifax and cracked the Top 40 in Kingston (ON). However, it didn’t crack the Top 100 on the RPM Singles chart in Canada.

In 1965, “Remember The Face” was a Top 40 hit for the Allan Sisters in Montreal. It was their most successful hit on the RPM Singles chart, peaking at #13. Another single, “Your Kind Of Love” was a Top 20 hit in Thunder Bay (ON). As the Allan Sisters gained more media attention, in August 1965, RPM anticipated “It is now just a matter of time before the Allan Sisters become an international pair.”

In 1966, “I’m In With The Downtown Crowd” was a Top 40 hit in Peace River (AB). The B-side, “Give It Up Girl”, was an excellent example of Northern Soul complete with standout harmonies and saxophone. It should have been released as a single. However, the disc didn’t crack the national RPM chart in Canada. Later that year “Dream Boy” climbed to #28 on the RPM Singles chart.

Near the end of 1966, the Allan Sisters appeared on the CTV variety show A Go-Go ’66. Aaron Lusch details how “Their appearance caught the attention of Tommy Hunter, who would feature them on his popular Tommy Hunter Show” from 1966 to 1977. Aside from their gig on the Tommy Hunter Show, in 1967 Coralie married future Rockadrome bassist Paul LaChapelle. They subsequently had two children. In the late sixties, both Coralie and Jackie focused on their families and didn’t release any singles.

In 1969, the Allan Sisters were backing vocalists for hispanic singer Ruben Rivas. That year they also recorded a cover of the Fats Domino hit “Ain’t That A Shame” with Rockadrome.

The Allan Sisters spot on the Tommy Hunter Show resulted in their releasing several singles for the country market. In 1972 the CBC aired “The Allan Sisters Christmas Special”. In 1977 they left the Tommy Hunter Show, and pursued a collaboration with the band Cloudburst. They also released several albums.

Jackie was diagnosed with cancer and died in 1984. Coralie pursued dinner/cabaret shows until 2000, when she moved to North Vancouver.

February 23, 2024
Ray McGinnis, featuring excerpts from Aaron Lusch article “Give It Up Girl: The Story of the Allan Sisters”

Aaron Lusch, “Give It Up Girl: The Story of the Allan Sisters,” Citizenfreak.com.
Allan Sisters,” RPM, August 2, 1965.

Mr. Special by the Allan Sisters
CHNS 960-AM Halifax (NS) Top Ten | January 1, 1965

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