Lead singer of early-'60s group settles in Carroll, practices psychotherapy

July 02, 1995|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,Contributing Writer

Between stops on a nationwide singing tour, Peggy Davison relaxes in the three-story, 1920s-era stone house that she and her husband, Jim, bought last year in Union Mills.

It's a warm, sunny, day as Ms. Davison, the lead singer for the Angels, a 1960s group best known for the No. 1 hit "My Boyfriend's Back," takes time out for an interview.

In jeans, boots, white blouse and black, narrow-framed glasses, her reddish hair pulled back, Ms. Davison enthusiastically discusses her life today as singer, wife, psychotherapist and resident of Carroll County.

The two-month tour kept her busy, she says. She came home from the Northwest for a short break, then flew to Alaska, returned home briefly, then flew to the Midwest for more concerts.

Between two such tours on her schedule this year with fellow Angel Jiggs Allbut Ms. Davison has a full schedule of weekend singing dates along the East Coast, planning for workshops and seminars for her new psychotherapy practice and volunteer work for Women in Self Help (WISH).

She also finds time to be a Big Sister to a 9-year-old Baltimore girl and to support a child in Thailand through the Save the Children Foundation.

And, there are furnishings to find for the house, for Ms. Davison's home is her refuge and her pride.

"This is the house of my dreams. I just love it," she says. "We wanted a really old house with a lot of rooms. I have lots of family and friends from out of town, so I wanted a place for them to stay when they visit."

She designed the tin ceiling tiles in the kitchen, which has French faucets and antique chairs that came from a monastery.

The couple's move from Owings Mills to Union Mills, she says, was a compromise between her husband's desire to live in a rural area and her need to be close to the cultural activities of the city.

She says she's falling in love with Carroll County. "It's so beautiful here. The view is lovely, and it's so close to things," she says.

"There's a lot to explore. We're very interested in the local history of the area we live in," she says. "Even meeting children of the people who worked for us doing the house, there's a certain civility, niceness and real friendliness I've noticed out here."

Yet her life is built around her busy schedule. It has always been that way.

Last year, Ms. Davison earned a master's degree in clinical psychology and opened her own practice, Positive Approach, at Green Spring Station in Baltimore County. She conducts seminars and workshops there and helps people who have serious illnesses.

"There's been a lot of cancer in my family, so I can use my psychology background to help others," she says. "When I do what I'm educated to do, I do it with my heart.

"I had a hit [record] right out of high school and went on the road then, so I couldn't go to college until much later," she says. "Singing is what I've always done, and that comes first."

The former Peggy Santiglia recalls playing hooky with a girlfriend from grade school in Belleville, N.J., and going to New York to see Murray Kaufman, the famous rock 'n' roll disc jockey known as Murray the K. She was 11 at the time.

"I remember it was snowing, and we had sneakers on, and we sang for him and he liked our song, and we recorded it right there with our lyrics," she says.

Ms. Davison and her friend recorded a couple of short songs about Murray the K and his show that he later used as theme pieces. Later, in high school, she recorded some songs with two girlfriends who called themselves the Delicates. The group had several minor regional hits.

"My family is very musical. My father played a lot of instruments, and my mother was very talented. My happiest memories are of holidays and singing and my father playing," she says.

"I used to live, breathe, think music. I tried to make everything into a song."

In 1963, she teamed with sisters Jiggs and Barbara Allbut to sing as the Angels. "My Boyfriend's Back," one of several hits the trio recorded on three albums, stayed atop the charts for three weeks that summer.

"The song became bigger than us," Ms. Davison says. "It sold the equivalent of platinum today -- 1 million copies. And now it comes back every year."

"Boyfriend" is still played regularly on oldies radio stations, and lTC the Angels keep some of their other hits -- "Till," "Cry Baby Cry," "I Adore Him" and "Thank You and Good Night" -- alive in their performances.

"We have fans that are just great, people that came to our shows when we were teen-agers," she says. "Touring is more fun than it was back then, because now I'm back in it just for the fun."

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