Formed in 1966, this trio of brash and beautiful teenage girls from New York City – 16-year-old Jeanette Jacobs, 18-year-old Barbara Morillo and 16-year-old Eleanor Barooshian – were discovered in 1967 singing along to records in Ondine’s Discotheque (under the on-ramp for the 59th Street Bridge in New York) by hotshot managers Charlie Greene and Brian Stone.
They were rushed into a recording studio, signed up to Decca and whisked off to Hollywood in a matter of weeks, where they were treated like stars and consorted with rock royalty.
Unfortunately, they jumped onto the rollercoaster of the ’60s music scene just as it hit its peak and spiralled into a downward curve.
The two albums they released (The Cake and A Slice of the Cake) have been cherished ever since by music enthusiasts as curios of the time, but creatively, stylistically, and in terms of sheer attitude, The Cake were way ahead of their time.
They were the first girl group to write original material as a group and the first to have it released on a major label.
This was not just a novelty at the time it was completely unheard of. They were also the first to break free of the stylistic yoke imposed by producers, songwriters and managers. In doing so, they bridged the gap between the pliable male fantasy of ’60s girl groups and the advent of ’70s girl bands who were doing it for themselves.
Changing her name to Chelsea Lee, Barooshian continued to work with Jeanette Jacobs, contributing backing vocals to the Jimi Hendrix album Electric Ladyland, and touring and recording with Ginger Baker’s Airforce and Dr John.
Jeanette Jacobs died on 1 January 1982, aged just 30. She had been the inspiration for Jimmy McCulloch when he wrote the Wings song Medicine Jar (when he was their lead guitarist), which he said was “born out of my frustration, caused by Jeanette’s constant use of Mandies.” Ironically, McCulloch died himself in September 1979 of heart failure due to morphine and alcohol poisoning. He was just 26 years old.
In 2006, Chelsea Lee and Barbara Morillo performed together as The Cake for the first time since 1968 as part of a Jimi Hendrix memorial show in New York.
Chelsea Lee/Eleanor Barooshian died in August 2016 at the age of 66.