Five black schoolgirls from Brooklyn, New York were chosen by Phil Spector to launch the Philles label he had formed with Lester Sills in late 1961.
Spector was also a New Yorker, whose family moved to Los Angeles in 1953, and he became the group’ mentor and produced all their singles.
Their debut – There’s No Other – went straight into the Top 20 and was followed by Top 10 hit Uptown, which then paved the way for their third release, the million-selling He’s A Rebel in 1962 – written by the rapidly emerging singing star Gene Pitney.
What people didn’t know at the time was that the original Crystals were not featured on He’s A Rebel. It had been recorded using a session group from Los Angeles fronted by Darlene Love.
This manufactured group also recorded the follow-up single, He’s Sure The Boy I Love.
When they recorded Da Doo Ron Ron in 1963, Darlene Love failed to turn up for the recording session and the newly-signed Cherilyn Sakisian La Pier – later to be known simply as Cher – stepped in and took her place.
Mary Thomas left the group in 1962 and The Crystals continued to work as a four-piece group.
They clocked up their biggest success with Then He Kissed Me in 1964. It became the first record on which all four members of the group were featured with fifteen-year-old Dolores ‘La La’ Brooks taking up the role as lead singer. The B-side was an instrumental called Brother Julius named after a hamburger stand close to the Gold Star studios where the recording took place.
Switching labels to United Artists failed to reactivate their career, and they re-formed only for the periodic revival show. The Crystals, however, will never be forgotten.
Dolores “La La” Brooks