Music reverberated throughout Judith Placido’s childhood. She grew up in Detroit in the ’60s with a mother who sang at family functions, and an older brother who crooned with a doo-wop group on street corners. Hitsville U.S.A was a short trip to the other side of town and, crucially, there was a piano in her basement. Young Placido was soon obsessed music, and driven enough to write, record, and release two 45s before she finished high school. “Instead of a garage band, I was a basement singer,” Placido said. “I didn’t have much of a social life as a teenager.”
As a freshman at Regina High School, she was ambitious. She formed her first vocal group with friends at school, but soon found her peers couldn’t hang with her growing talent for songcraft. “I wrote ‘Dum Dum De Dip’ and I said, ‘You know what, I’m going to get some girls who know how to sing,’” she explained. Soon she enlisted her younger sister Joanne and two older girls from Regina, Louise Diegel and Sue Gardner, to form Judi & the Affections. They performed a repertoire of her original songs, which she’d written in the family basement. Eager to prove the strength of her material, Judi cold-called producer Ernie Stratton, and earned the group an audition for a record deal before they’d ever played a show. “I was from a strict Italian family, I couldn’t even date,” she said. “What was I going to do to meet with this Mr. Stratton?” Her older brother Alex Placido—seven years her senior and himself a former singer with the Counts—was named as the group’s manager. His initial responsibilities consisted of chauffeuring the Affections to and from Stratton’s studio.
Stratton called on his local contacts to back the group on their debut 45. Central to the work was arranger Richard “Popcorn” Wylie, Motown’s first head of A&R and a pianist on many of the label’s early classics. Recorded at Detroit’s United Sound Studios, “Dum Dum De Dip” b/w “Marie, Give Him Back” was released on Stratton’s DoDe Records in 1964. Despite misspelling Judi’s name as Judy, the 45 had a good response locally and launched the girls on a weekend career of performing choreographed dance moves at teen dances across central Canada and the Midwest. A follow-up 45 in 1965, “Ain’t Gonna Hurt My Pride” b/w “Hey Pretty Girl” was recorded at Chicago’s RCA Studios and released on the Stratton-owned Top Ten Records. This time his brother Alex was listed as the producer. Despite seeing her name spelled correctly, the A-side was a huge disappointment to Judi. “It was too fast,” she said. “That’s not how I wrote it...recording it, I can recall almost being out of breath when I was singing. I was embarrassed to even try to do anything after that. That did it in for me.”
A final blow came when the band was booked to perform on “Teen Town”—Detroit’s answer to “American Bandstand”—hosted by local rock DJ Robin Seymour. “Alex didn’t get us there. He overslept and he didn’t get us there,” Placido lamented. “One of my biggest regrets is that we didn’t make it to that local TV station.” The television snafu aside, the music world of the late ’60s was changing, with girl groups and R&B falling out of fashion in the face of the British Invasion. Though she continued to write songs, Judi never recorded again. After graduation, she became a hairdresser, and eventually the owner of BonCiDello Salon & Spa. “It meant everything to me,” Placido said of her brief music career. “It was really the way I thought my life was going to go. I really thought that I would be in the [music] business. That’s what I thought I would be doing to this day.”
- Judi & The Affections Dum, Dum, De Dip
- Judi & The Affections Marie, Give Him Back
- Judi & The Affections Ain’t Gonna Hurt My Pride
- Judi & The Affections Hey Pretty Girl