Robbie Montgomery | Srivideo
Birth name: Robbie Marie Montgomery
Also known as: Miss Robbie
Born/Date of Birth: June 16, 1940
Place of Birth: Columbus, Mississippi, United States
Origin: St. Louis, Missouri
Grandchildren: Andre Montgomery, Timmy Norman
Siblings: Linda Montgomery
Children: Tim Norman, Andre Montgomery
Occupation(s): Singer, restaurateur
Labels: Teena Records, Modern Records, Mirwood Records, Uni Records
Associated acts: Ike & Tina Turner, the Ikettes, the Mirettes, Dr. John
Robbie Montgomery (born June 16, 1940) is an American soul singer. She is noted for being one of the original Ikettes in the Ike & Tina Turner Revue in the 1960s. After her tenure as an Ikettes, she became a "Night Tripper" for Dr. John. Montgomery was a backing vocalist for acts in the 1970s, including Stevie Wonder, Barbra Streisand, The Rolling Stones and Joe Cocker. Montgomery later became a successful restaurateur and star of the award-winning reality series Welcome to Sweetie Pie's.
Robbie Marie Montgomery was born on June 16, 1940, in Columbus, Mississippi, to Ora Gray and James Montgomery. They lived with her great-grandmother, Miss Pathenia, who was American Indian. When she was six years old, her family moved to St. Louis, Missouri. She grew up in the Pruitt-Igoe projects as the oldest of nine siblings. Her siblings are James, Walter, Robert, George, Everett, Linda and Janice. Montgomery was raised a Baptist but is now a Methodist, she sang in the church choir. Montgomery attended Curtis Elementary School and graduated from Pruitt High School.
— Robbie Montgomery (2012)
Montgomery and two neighborhood friends, Frances Hodges and Sandra Harding, started a doo-wop singing group called the Rhythmettes, and they started appearing in talent shows. A local singer named Art Lassiter hired them as backup singers and they became the Artettes. Lassiter sang with bandleader Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm. Turner wrote a song, "A Fool in Love," for Lassiter. When Art Lassiter didn't show up for a recording session at Technisonic Studios in March 1960, Turner took the Artettes and had them accompany his backup vocalist Little Ann (Tina Turner) on the track.
"A Fool In Love," released in July 1960 on Sue Records and became a hit, peaking at No. 27 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 on the Billboard Hot R&B Sides. Turner formed the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, but with a new group of backup singers: Delores Johnson, Eloise Hester, and Jo Armstead. Montgomery was pregnant and unable to tour. After having her baby in 1961, Montogmery toured with blues musician Earl Hooker before she returned to Ike & Tina. During her hiatus she sang with the group Benny Sharp & the New Breed who had another female vocalist named Jessie Smith. Montgomery and Smith along with Venetta Fields (a gospel singer from Buffalo) formed the first official incarnation of The Ikettes. In 1962, Montgomery released her first single,"Crazy In Love" / "Pee Wee" on Turner's Teena record label.
The Ike & Tina Turner Revue performed a grueling schedule of one-nighters on the Chitlin Circuit in the segregated south, and recorded constantly, but Montgomery recalled those timed fondly. "We had good times. We would gamble, sing, dance, all the way to the next gig," she told St. Louis Magazine. In 1962, Turner relocated the Ike & Tina Turner Revue to California. In 1965, the Ikettes released two of their biggest hits on Modern Records, "Peaches 'N' Cream" (Pop No. 36, R&B No. 28) and "I'm So Thankful" (Pop No. 74, R&B No. 12). As an Ikette, Montogmery performed on the American television shows American Bandstand, Hollywood A Go-Go, and Shindig!.
Montgomery, Smith and Fields left the Ike & Tina Turner Revue in 1965. After trying unsuccessfully to continue using the name the Ikettes under management of Tina Turner's sister, Alline Bullock, they changed their name to the Mirettes after their new label Mirwood Records. Their single release did not chart and they later signed with Revue Records. In 1968, they had success with the single "In the Midnight Hour" (Pop No. 45, R&B No. 18). They sang on The Lost Man soundtrack produced by Quincy Jones in 1969.
Montgomery eventually left the Mirettes to join Dr. John as a "Night Tripper" in the 1970's. She provided backing vocals for variety of acts including Barbra Streisand, Debbie Reynolds, Joe Cocker and Stevie Wonder. In the 1970's she was diagnosed with sarcoidosis which required lung surgery and derailed her singing career.
In 1986 and 1987, Montgomery toured Europe with former members of the Kings of Rhythm, including Jimmy Hinds, Clayton Love, Billy Gayles, Erskine Oglesby, Stacy Johnson and Oliver Sain, as part of the St. Louis Kings of Rhythm. The band was officially appointed as ambassadors for the City of St. Louis.
In 2018, Montgomery released her debut album, Miss Robbie's What They Call Me, her first release in 40 years. The EP includes songs that are mixture of soul, blues and country. Montgomery worked on the project with St. Louis producer/engineer Carl Nappa.
After Montgomery's lung collapsed, which prevented her singing, she moved back to St. Louis from California and became a dialysis technician. Eventually she took her mother's soul food recipes, and created a soul food restaurant, Sweetie Pie's, run by herself and her family. The first restaurant, on West Florissant Avenue in Dellwood, opened in 1996. Montgomery hires men out of prison looking for jobs to work in her restaurant.
Welcome to Sweetie Pies, a reality show which focused on Montgomery running her soul food restaurants, premiered on the Oprah Winfrey Network on October 15, 2011.
In 2015, Montgomery was featured the book The People's Place: Soul Food Restaurants and Reminiscences from the Civil Rights Era to Today. Montgomery told author Dave Hoekstra that managing her own restaurant gave her new appreciation for her former boss Ike Turner. "Back then we all thought he was mean. You had to rehearse. He had his rules. You couldn't have runs in your stockings. But now that I am running a business I know exactly where he was coming from." Before Turner died in 2007, he visited Sweetie Pie's and tipped Montgomery fifty-dollars.
In 2016, Montgomery sued her son Tim Norton for stealing money and violating her Sweetie Pie’s trademark to open competing restaurants. In 2017, Montgomery filed a motion to enforce a settlement agreement.
In the 1980s, Mayor Vincent Schoemehl appointed the St. Louis Kings of Rhythm, which included Montgomery, ambassadors for the City of St. Louis.
In 2010, George Lombardi, the director of the Missouri Department of Corrections, presented Montgomery with a plaque honoring her for her willingness to help ex-offenders.
Welcome to Sweetie Pie's won Best Reality Series at the NAACP Image Awards in 2013 and 2016.
Montogmery had a son, Andre Montgomery (1961-1995), with Art Lassiter. Her grandson, Andre Montgomery Jr. (1994-2016), who was featured on her show was shot and killed in 2016.
Montogery's son Tim Norman was born in 1979. He manages Sweetie Pie's restaurant on Manchester Avenue in St. Louis. In 2018, Norman was arrested for an incident in 2017 where he was accused of punching his ex-restaurant employee.
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