Jheri Curl June: Shalamar’s “Imaginary Love”

Jheri Curl June: Shalamar’s “Imaginary Love”

By 1987, Shalamar’s classic lineup of Howard Hewett, Jody Watley, and Jeffrey Daniel had disbanded. The lineup for Shalamar’s ninth studio album, Circumstantial Evidence, consisted of Sidney Justin, a former backup singer for the group who replaced Hewett when he left in 1985 to pursue his solo career; DeLisa Davis, who auditioned to replace Watley after her departure in 1983; and Micki Free, a rock guitarist who was discovered by Gene Simmons while in a band that opened for KISS, and later joined Shalamar under Simmons’ counseling despite his hard rock sensibilities.

"Micki Free is not a girl!" The guitarists androgynous looks were poked fun at in the Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Stories: Prince skit on Chappelle's Show

“Micki Free is not a girl!”
The guitarist’s androgynous looks were poked fun at in the Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories: Prince skit on Chappelle’s Show; photo © Comedy Central

Circumstantial Evidence, yet another album produced by Babyface, yielded two hit singles, but spelled the beginning of the end for Shalamar. As we mentioned yesterday, by the late ’80s jheri curl music was being phased out, replaced by the emerging hip-hop and New Jack Swing sounds that would dominate R&B music for much of the ’90s. But Circumstantial Evidence managed to retain a pure jheri curl sound–although Free did deliver a few choppy “rap” verses on “Games“–at a time when it was becoming passé.

Shalamar's lineup in 1987: From left to right, Sidney Justin, DeLisa Davis, Micki Free; © SOLAR Records

Shalamar’s lineup in 1987: From left to right, Sidney Justin, DeLisa Davis, Micki Free; © SOLAR Records

Even if it isn’t cutting-edge fashion, “Imaginary Love” is still a fun, funky late jheri curl song with a thumping bassline and overlapping high-pitched synth tracks. Plus there’s a really weird spoken-word part with a bad Australian accent and a Morris Day impersonation…some things never change.

Keep up with the Spotify playlist, and we’ll see you tomorrow:

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