In summer 1958, Phillip Harvey Spector (who had moved from New York to LA a few years earlier) and three of his Fairfax High School pals – Marshall Leib, Harvey Goldstein and Annette Kleinbard – managed to raise $40 between them to pay for a two-hour recording session at Gold Star Sound on Santa Monica and Vine. They succeeded in recording only one song, Don’t Worry My Little Pet.
Returning shortly afterwards without Goldstein but with drummer Sandy Nelson in tow, and calling themselves The Teddy Bears, they cut Wonderful Lovable You.
In the last half hour they also quickly recorded a song Spector had written after the death of his father several years earlier – To Know Him Is To Love Him.
Phil Spector pitched the recordings to local independent record company Dore, run by Lew Bedell, who recognised an effective yet naive sound in the last song while being less impressed with the supposed main songs.
Spector overdubbed extra vocals onto To Know Him Is To Love Him to add more body to the track, and – through Bedell’s astuteness – ended up with a worldwide #1 hit that sold 1.5 million copies in 1958.
The Teddy Bears – presented as a trio of Spector, Leib and Kleinbard – enjoyed a brief period in the spotlight, and were rapidly tempted away to sign a new deal with the bigger Imperial Records, where they managed only one minor hit, Oh Why (US #91 for one week).
Despite an album and some quick follow-up attempts from both Dore and Imperial (including an instrumental called Bumbershoot under the name Phil Harvey), The Teddy Bears had been swiftly consigned to the back of the toy cupboard, and Phil Spector was left, perhaps unsurprisingly given the nature of the business, with substantially less money than he might have expected from a major worldwide hit. It was a lesson he would heed.
He tried again the following year to repeat the formula, this time with a trio called The Spectors Three with two singles on the Trey label. I Really Do copied The Fleetwoods‘ Come Softly To Me hit sound, but without any success, which led to a re-assessment of Phil’s career direction and a return to New York.
The rest, as they say, is history . . .