The Crystals

"I was signed to him (Phil Spector) and he could use all of his groups intertwined. He could make me The Crystals; he could make me Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans." -- Darlene Love
The Crystals are a conundrum. There are actually three parts -- The Crystals, Phil Spector, and The Blossoms. It began with The Crystals, a female quintet put together by former big band leader, Benny Wells in 1961. While rehearsing, the group was introduced to Phil Spector who was working with Liberty records and he arranged for a recording date. They recorded "Oh Yeah, Maybe Baby" (intended as the A side) and "There's No Other." At Spector's direction, the latter was slowed down considerably from its original tempo. Spector arranged for the record to be released under his new label, Philles. "There's No Other" with the lead vocal by Barbara Alston became the preferred play by disc jockeys and reached #20 in January of 1962. Their next release was "Uptown," a song by Brill Building writers Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. "Uptown" was a very different sounding record, perhaps a little ahead of its time, and it peaked at #13. Their next release was the controversial, "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)," by another Brill Building team, Carole King and Gerry Goffin. Many dj's, and reportedly the group itself, found the song distasteful and it was pulled from circulation before it had much of a chance to chart. Spector, still working for Liberty, came across another song he liked, a Gene Pitney composition, "He's A Rebel." Liberty records was getting ready to release the single recorded by Viki Carr. Spector had left for the west coast and took a demo of "He's a Rebel" with him. In Los Angeles, he put together a team of studio technicians and musicians that would become renowned for his "wall of sound" productions. He wanted to have his Crystals record "He's A Rebel" with this new production crew, but The Crystals were still in New York. Enter The Blossoms. Darlene Love had become lead singer for The Blossoms in 1961, but they had no successful recordings of their own. But they were becoming extensively used as a backup group, performing on Shelley Fabares' #1 record, Johnny Angel. Spector brought them into the studio and they recorded "He's A Rebel," but when it was released in August, it was credited to The Crystals. On November 3rd it reached #1, ironically edging out Gene Pitney's (who wrote "He's a Rebel") "Only Love Can Break a Heart" for the top spot. The Blossoms then recorded, "He's Sure the Boy I Love," (#11) written by Brill Building duo Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil, and it too was released as a Crystals record. For the next Crystals' release, in March of 1963, Spector had original Crystal La La Brooks fly to Los Angeles to sing lead. Again turning to a Brill Building writing team, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil, Spector had The Blossoms and Brooks record "Da Doo Ron Ron." Crystals' member Dee Dee Kennibrew commented, "... he (Spector) would bring in tracks, not finished, but enough for you to put your own part down, so he would do everything in segments, so I could not tell you how or what he kept of ours." Finally, in 1963, the original Crystals recorded "Then He Kissed Me" which made it to #6 on Billboard in August. But that was the end of The Crystals recording success as Phil Spector turned his attention to a new group, The Ronettes. Spector went on to great success with The Righteous Brothers and eventually even The Beatles. The Blossoms never had a big recording career, but were regulars on the mid-sixties television series, Shindig, and appeared in the 1964 T.A.M.I. show. Darlene Love had a top ten hit as Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans with "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" (#8) in 1962. Phil Spector was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989; Darlene Love was inducted in 2011.

title week debuted highest ranking weeks on chart
There's No Other 12/11/1961 20 7
Uptown 4/28/1962 13 8
He's a Rebel 10/6/1962 1 12
Then He Kissed Me 8/31/1963 6 9
Da Doo Ron Ron 5/11/1963 3 10
There's No Other 12/11/1961 20 7
He's Sure The Boy I Love 1/19/1963 11 8