Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sunday Morning Vault: The Crystals--He's A Rebel (1962)

     It's hard to think today how little control artists had in the first years of rock and roll. Stories about bad contracts and rip offs have always been a part of the landscape as unscrupulous record companies and managers took advantage of men and women who just wanted hear their records on the radio. 
     In the early 60s,  Barbara Alston, Mary Thomas, Dolores "Dee Dee" Kenniebrew, Myrna Girard, and Patrica "Patsy" Wright made up The Crystals. They signed with Phil Spector's Philles Records, and their first hit was 1961's, "There's No Other One (Like My Baby)". Another hit followed about 6 months later with, "Uptown".
      The potential third hit was written by Carole King and Jerry Goffin. "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)". It's subject matter kept many radio stations from playing it, and the song never reached the charts at all. This leads up to our featured song...
      By mid-1962, Spector was recording in LA much of the time, and had found Darlene Love and her group The Blossoms and began recording THEM under the name, "The Crystals". This song, which was released in the fall of 1962 was not actually recorded by the original Crystals. There are a couple of stories concerning this. One legend was that he was so enthusiastic about the song that he recorded it as soon as he heard it. The more likely story has that the original Crystals were based in New York and as there was a race to get the recording out as soon as possible, Spector didn't want to wait for the girls to travel cross country, so he used what he had.
    The song, written by Gene Pitney, which began a trend among girl groups to sing about the relationships between the girl and her tough guy boyfriend, went to number 1 in the fall of 1962. Phil Spector played fast and loose with both groups and the names associated with them for the next couple of years This clip which was filmed in 1965 is very ironic considering the real Crystals are lip syncing to a song they never recorded...


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