The Cookies essentially had two histories as distinctly different groups (with one member in common) that existed for two years at a time, six years and an entire decade apart in styles and sounds. The original Cookies were Margie Hendrix, Ethel "Earl-Jean" McCrea, and Pat Lyles, who started singing together in Brooklyn in the early '50s, made their recording debut on the Lamp imprint of Aladdin Records in 1954, and were signed to Atlantic Records in 1955 by producer/songwriter Jesse Stone. This lineup enjoyed a Top Ten hit on the R&B charts in 1956 with the single "In Paradise," and backed Chuck Willis and Joe Turner on various sessions during that same period. They ceased to exist as the Cookies when Ray Charles, who was also signed to Atlantic, transformed them into the Raelettes. They spent the next six years working under that name until 1962, when a new version of the Cookies emerged in New York, with Earl-Jean McCrea joining newcomers Dorothy Jones and Margaret Ross.
The Cookies were an American R&B girl group in the 1950s to 1960s. Members of the original lineup would later become the Raelettes, the backing vocalists for Ray Charles.
In 1961, a new version of the Cookies emerged in New York, with Dorothy Jones joining newcomers Earl-Jean McCrea (Darlene's younger sister) and another of Dorothy's cousins, Margaret Ross. Jones also recorded one solo recording for Columbia in 1961. This trio had the greatest success as the Cookies: under their own name; as backing vocals for other artists, including Neil Sedaka's hit songs "Breaking Up is Hard to Do", "The Dreamer" and "Bad Girl"; and recording demos for Aldon Music, under the direction of Carole King and Gerry Goffin. They provided the backup vocals for the Little Eva hit song, "The Loco-Motion", as well as her follow-up hit "Let's Turkey Trot", both from 1962; and for Mel Tormé's hit version of "Comin' Home Baby". They scored their biggest hit in 1963 with the song "Don't Say Nothin' Bad (About My Baby)", which reached #3 on the Billboard R&B chart and #7 on the Billboard Pop chart.
A 1962 hit, "Chains", was later recorded by the Beatles. Earl-Jean McCrea left the group in 1965 after two solo singles, which included the first recording of the Goffin/King song, "I'm Into Something Good".
The Cookies also released several recordings under pseudonyms, mostly with Margaret Ross on lead. Their alter egos on recordings were the Palisades (Chairman), the Stepping Stones (Philips), the Cinderellas (Dimension) and the Honey Bees (Fontana 1939 only).
In April 1967 they released their last record, produced by the Tokens. Darlene McCrea returned to replace her sister for this recording.
Dorothy Jones died on Christmas Day 2010, from complications of Alzheimer's disease, in Columbus, Ohio, at the age of 76.
Margaret Ross, now Margaret Williams, tours today as the Cookies with new back-up singers. She also performs with Barbara Harris and the Toys occasionally.
Darlene McCrea died February 4, 2013.
Formed in 1954 in Brooklyn, New York, The Cookies' membership originally consisted of Dorothy Jones,"Ethel" Darlene McCrea and Dorothy's cousin, Beulah Roberton.
Robertson was replaced in 1956 by Margie Hendricks.
The group was introduced to Ray Charles through their session work for Atlantic Records.
After backing him and other Atlantic Records artists, McCrea and Hendricks helped form The Raelettes in 1958. Pat Lyles was a Raelett, but never a Cookie.