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Ritchie Valens
Amy Winehouse and the 'girl group' sound
Amy Winehouse and the 'girl group' sound

When Amy Winehouse's album "Back to Black" first appeared on American charts, I was teaching the History of Rock at Johns Hopkins. Given my focus on the history of musical genres, I was immediately struck by her innovative use of the past. Ms. Winehouse was interested in the "girl groups" of the early 1960s, a music that was generally dismissed as frivolous. She heard those songs differently and created a contemporary version of that music style that is still fresh and relevant. Amy Winehouse was to the girl groups of the 1960s what the Stray Cats were to the rockabilly of the 1950s. Like the Stray Cats, Ms. Winehouse's arresting appearance made a caricature of...

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