The Peaches & Herb coming to the Gallo Center for the Arts tonight aren't exactly the same hit-making duo from years past.
While Herb Feemster co-founded the group in the 1960s, the current Peaches (Meritxell Negre) joined in 2008. Numerous women have played Peaches over the past 40 years, Feemster said in a recent phone interview.
"I don't count," said Feemster, who goes by the stage name Herb Fame. "There have been several — maybe six or seven."
Linda Greene recorded the group's hits "Shake Your Groove Thing" and "Reunited."
The current Peaches & Herb are on the bill for tonight's "Tribute to Motown Era" show, which is part of the monthlong Graffiti Summer festivities celebrating Modesto native son George Lucas' famous film about youth in the early 1960s.
Other performers are The Original Elgins ("Uncle Sam's Man"), Al Zaid in a tribute to Sam Cooke ("You Send Me," "A Change is Gonna Come"), Temptations tribute group Best Intentions ("My Girl," "The Way You Do The Things You Do").
Feemster, 67, said he and his partner will sing classic Peaches & Herb hits plus songs off their new album, "Colors of Love."
"It's all about love and people being happy and getting together and dancing," he said about the CD. "I don't like doing negative music. It's all positive stuff."
Feemster and the original Peaches, Francine "Peaches" Hurd Barker, first gained fame in 1967 with the hit "Let's Fall in Love." The duo also had success with the songs "Close Your Eyes," "For Your Love" and "Love is Strange."
While they were known as the "sweethearts of soul," they were never a romantic couple. Feemster added that he has never had a romantic relationship with any of the Peaches.
"We've been in magazine after magazine explaining that we aren't, but people don't believe it," he said.
In 1970, Barker bowed out to become a housewife and Feemster returned to his hometown of Washington, D.C., to pursue a completely different career as a policeman.
"I left the business originally because I got tired of standing up there and trying to please everyone," he said. "You never got to meet real people. I got tired of playing a part and I needed a break."
He said people he arrested would recognize him from time to time when he was on the cop beat.
"Sometimes it would calm things down and we'd get to talking about music," he said.
During this period, Feemster said he stopped listening to music and just watched sports and news. But after an eight-year hiatus, he got the recording itch again.
After going back to recording, he scored the disco hit "Shake Your Groove Thing" (1979) and "Reunited" (1980) with Greene.
Since then, he has been in and out of music. Feemster hasn't given up his law-enforcement career and currently holds a job working as a deputized court security officer at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in Washington, D.C. He said he keeps in shape by going to the gym five days a week.
He's grateful to still be recording and to have fans who still want to hear him perform. He compares his music career to a long relationship with a woman.
"There's ups and downs in this romance that I have with music," he said, "but I will love her until the day I die and still after I die."
Negre, the current Peaches, was born in Barcelona, Spain, and has her own Spanish-language recordings. She is the first nonblack artist to sing as Peaches.
What does Feemster look for in a Peaches?
"A voice first, looks second, attitude third," he said. "You want to work with someone who you don't mind working with. I'm a Libra, I like everything to go along smooth."