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The Fleetwoods

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Olympia WA, United States

The Fleetwoods were a singing trio from Olympia, Washington, United States; formed in the late 1950s. They were responsible for the hit song “Come Softly to Me”. The song was originally called “Come Softly”, and the group was originally named Two Girls and a Guy, but both were changed en route to the song becoming a hit.

Gary Troxel (b. November 28, 1939, Centralia, Washington) and Gretchen Christopher (b. February 29, 1940, Olympia, Washington) were two high school students waiting for Christopher’s mother to pick them up after school. They started singing and humming a song together, and liked it enough to ask Christopher’s friend and singing partner, Barbara Ellis (b. February 20, 1940, Olympia, Washington), to join them as a trio to perform it.

They performed the song twice at school functions, and their classmates wanted recordings of it so they could learn the song. After six months, they got the track recorded. They sang it a cappella, then dubbed the instrumental accompaniment, consisting only of Latin-styled acoustic guitar and the rhythmic shaking of Troxel’s car keys. “Come Softly to Me” was also recorded by Frankie Vaughan and The Kaye Sisters, who had a chart hit in the United Kingdom with the song. The Fleetwoods’ version of “Come Softly To Me” can be heard on a portable radio at one point in the 1986 movie, Stand By Me, which was set in Washington state.

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