‘The queen of beach music’: North Myrtle Beach shag icon dies at 66

A North Myrtle Beach shag dance and beach music icon who was known around the country has died.

Judy Collins, owner of Judy’s House of Oldies, died Saturday. She was 66.

A slow song and blues lover, Collins, also a disc jockey, made an impact on the people she met through the music she produced, family and friends say.

Jeannie Faulk Elmore, Collins’ sister, said her sibling was a wonderful, sweet, loving person. Elmore said Collins should be remembered as the “queen of beach music.”

“She heard things in music that other people did not hear,” Elmore said.

Judy Collins.JPG
Courtesy of the Beach Shaggers National Hall of Fame

Collins won numerous awards in the industry from music producing, DJing and dancing, Elmore said. She DJed all over the country, produced her own CDs and had a song that was No. 1 on the charts: “My Kinda Girl” by Billy Scott.

Her longtime shag dance partner was Jeppy McDowell, who she danced with from the beginning.

“We just enjoyed dancing all the time,” McDowell said. “She thoroughly enjoyed sharing her knowledge with people.”

McDowell said Collins’ smile and laughter will be missed.

In 1999, Collins was inducted to the Beach Shaggers National Hall of Fame. In a letter she wrote after she was inducted, Collins said music had been a major part in her life since she was 12 years old.

“I was surrounded with all kinds of music at a young age,” she wrote. “Working everyday after school and on weekends at my father’s store, I soon found myself leaning toward the ‘Beach Music’ as my favorite sound. Working in the music business also gave me access to some wonderful people that I knew loved the music and also really knew how to do the dance called ‘the shag.’”

Collins was sick the last six years of her life due to diabetes, which ultimately took her life, her sister said.

Collins was the daughter of Ester Lewis Oates and the late Rufus Lee Oates. Elmore said Collins received her talent from their father, who was also well-known in the industry.

Lulu Quick, who has known Collins since the 1980s, said she frequently stood behind the bar and watched Collins teach shag lessons.

“She was a ball of fun,” Quick said. “She did so much to keep beach music, the bands and shag alive, and it takes a lot to keep it alive.”

George Driscoll, owner of All About Travel Tours located near Judy’s House of Oldies in North Myrtle Beach, said Collins got him involved with beach music cruises and for 11 years they worked together doing the “Fun Blues Cruise.”

“She should be remembered as a beach music icon,” Driscoll said. “She will be missed.”

Collins is survived by her mother, Ester Oates; sister, Jeannie Faulk Elmore; brother, Jerry Oates; daughter, Tracy Collins; and granddaughter, Logan Collins.

A service to remember Collins’ life is 2 p.m. Wednesday at McMillan-Small Funeral Home in Myrtle Beach. Family and friends will gather after at Fat Harold’s Beach Club to continue celebrating her life.

Memorials may be made to The Shaggers Hall of Fame Foundation, P.O. Box 4070, North Myrtle Beach, SC 29579.

The Sun News Reporter Hannah Strong is passionate about making the world better through what she reports and writes. Strong, who is a Pawleys Island native, is quick to jump on breaking news, profiles stories about people in the community and obituaries. Strong has won four S.C. Press Association first-place awards, including one for enterprise reporting after riding along with police during a homicide. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Winthrop University.