The Crystals Biography

This highly influential 60s US female vocal group were the product of Phil Spector, for his pioneering Philles record label. They, along with the Ronettes, were one of the definitive ‘wall of sound’ groups of the 60s. They came together after meeting in the legendary Brill Building where the group was preparing demos for the Aberbach’s famous publishing company Hill and Range. The line-up comprised Dee Dee Kennibrew (Dolores Henry, Brooklyn, New York, USA), La La Brooks (b. Brooklyn, New York, USA), Pat Wright (b. Brooklyn, New York, USA), Mary Thomas (b. Brooklyn, New York, USA) and Barbara Alston, who was their manager’s niece. Spector was impressed and produced the debut ‘There’s No Other (Like My Baby)’ in 1961. At this time Spector was developing his unique sound by mixing numerous layers of vocals and instruments onto one mono track. The blurred result was demonstrated on ‘Uptown’ but it was taken to its glorious extreme on Gene Pitney’s song ‘He’s A Rebel’. The latter featured the lead vocals of Darlene Wright (Love), and, as Spector owned the name, he could use whoever he wanted as the Crystals. It became a number 1 single in the USA (UK number 19). La la Brooks returned to the lead vocal on two further hits that have since become timeless classics, ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’ and ‘Then He Kissed Me’, both major hits in 1963. The Beach Boys attempted a Spector-like production with their own version, ‘Then I Kissed Her’, in 1967. The Crystals were soon overtaken when their mentor devoted more time to the Ronettes, and consequently their career faltered. New members passed through, including Frances Collins, and the band was prematurely banished to the nostalgia circuit.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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