ON THIS DATE in 1961, the Shirelles reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” co-written by eighteen-year-old Carole King (above). Shirley Owens, nineteen, sang lead vocals on the first song by an all-girl group to reach number one.
Attending Queens College in Brooklyn, King and Gerry Goffin met, got married, and started writing songs together. The two worked other jobs — she as a secretary, he as a chemist — until selling “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” to song publisher Don Kirshner, who gave them both a $10,000 advance for the risqué tune about post-coital reservations from a night of love.
The first hit for the King-Goffin team was far from their last. King composed the melodies and Goffin supplied the lyrics for numerous early ’60s hits, including Bobby Vee’s “Take Good Care of My Baby,” Little Eva’s “The Locomotion,” and Steve Lawrence’s “Go Away Little Girl” — all number-one hits in 1961 and ’62. King divorced Goffin in 1968 and released Tapestry in 1971, an album that spent 17 weeks at number one, sold 25 million copies worldwide, and brought the singer-songwriter four Grammy awards.
The Shirelles recorded five more top-10 singles in 1961 and 1962, including “Soldier Boy,” a number one hit for three weeks in May of 1962.