The Crystals

The Crystals placed six songs in the top twenty in 1962 and 1963 and helped to set the stage for other acts that would follow for their producer, Phil Spector. They helped Spector to establish his famous "Wall Of Sound."

The group came from Brooklyn and was formed during the time Spector spent working in New York City's Brill Building. They consisted of original lead singer Barbara Alston, Dee Dee Kennibrew, Patsy Wright, and Myrna Gerrard; others at various times including Delores "LaLa" Brooks, Mary Thomas, and Frances Collins. All of them were from New York City.

The first hit song for the Crystals was There's No Other [Like My Baby], a number five R&B hit and number twenty pop which was released on Spector's Philles label late in 1961. The Crystals recorded He Hit Me [But It Felt Like A Kiss], a song that was controversial for its lyrical content and which was withdrawn from the market. They followed it with Uptown early in 1962, the group's biggest hit to date.

Spector returned to his home on the West Coast, where he liked to record songs at Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles. This was the same studio where he had recorded To Know Him Is To Love Him when he had been a performer with the Teddy Bears in the late 50's, a song that had reached the top of the charts. Spector wanted to record a piece that had been written by Gene Pitney, but the Crystals were in New York. He brought in some LA session singers [including members of the Blossoms] and recorded the song, He's A Rebel, at Gold Star. The lead vocal was done by Darlene Love of the Blossoms, who had done backup vocals on some other well-known songs such as Johnny Angel. Darlene Love had a powerful voice, one that is considered by some today as one of the best ever in rock-and-roll. The result was a number one hit on Philles for the Crystals, even though it had been performed by singers who were not members of the group that had released the earlier Crystals' hits. This lineup had another hit early in 1963, He's Sure The Boy I Love, which just missed the top ten and again featured a strong vocal performance by Darlene Love.

But the old group of Crystals wasn't finished yet. In 1963 they recorded Da Doo Ron Ron [When He Walked Me Home]. This time the lead vocalist was LaLa Brooks, and the song was a smashing success, peaking at number three. LaLa also did the lead on the group's next [and final] top ten hit, Then He Kissed Me, a song that Spector would later say he considered to be his best one ever. It was these two songs probably more than any others that helped to form what came to be known as Phil Spector's "Wall Of Sound."

Other minor hits followed, such as All Grown Up and Little Boy in 1964. The Crystals' producer had by this time established a solid reputation in the music business and was turning his attention to working with other groups, such as the Ronettes and the Righteous Brothers.

The Crystals had recorded the original versions of some noted songs written by the stable of songwriters in the Brill Building, but they were records which had never been issued. Some of these were turned into hits by other artists, such as It's My Party and Chapel Of Love. Another such song, I Wonder, was issued only in the UK and is coveted by record collectors today. Da Doo Ron Ron and Then He Kissed Me were reissued and became hits on the UK charts in 1974.

The Crystals have toured in the 80's and 90's with oldies shows, this time with original member Dee Dee Kennibrew serving the role of lead singer. They are remembered as one of the first and best of the fabulous girl groups of the 60's.

Most Recent Update: April 20, 2000

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