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By July, 1963, Phil Spector had already made the Hot 100 with seven chart hits that he produced. He successfully ended his partnership with Lester Sill and began his marriage to Annette Merar. Shortly after his marriage, Spector traveled to New York looking for a song to follow up on The Crystals success with "Da Doo Ron Ron
." "Then He Kissed Me" was the perfect song for the group and Phil put together one of his most extravagant productions for the record. (Thanks to Kent at the Forgotten Hits newsletter, which you can join at The60sshop@aol.com.)
Dolores "La La" Brooks is the only Crystal to perform on this song. Spector recorded the group's first recordings in New York City, where they were from. When he relocated to Los Angeles, he had a group called The Blossoms (with Darlene Love singing lead) record the songs "He's A Rebel
" and "He's Sure the Boy I Love," which he issued as The Crystals.
On all subsequent Crystals recordings, Spector flew Brooks from New York to Los Angeles to perform the lead vocals, but the other Crystals never made the trip, as Spector preferred to use local backup singers.
This was also around the time when the group shrunk from five members to four, losing Mary Thomas, who left to get married.
Phil Spector produced this using his "Wall Of Sound" technique, which meant long hours in the studio for the musicians, as Spector was notoriously stingy allowing breaks. His engineer Larry Levine recalled: "He didn’t want to give them a bathroom break. Not because he wanted to work them to death, but because he didn’t want them to move microphones or bodies or anything. He wanted everything to stay as it was in the studio. But he would work for three hours or more before we ever put anything on tape. And I think the reason was he wanted to tire these great musicians so that they weren’t playing individualistic; they were too tired. And so they just melded into this wall of sound."
This was written by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich. Phil Spector also received a songwriting credit. (thanks, Jerro - New Alexandria, PA)
Crystals lead singer La La Brooks was just 15 when she recorded this song. Had she ever been kissed? "Yeah," she replied when we asked her
. "My little boyfriend at 13 years kissed me on my mouth at the door. But not kiss kiss - you know what I'm saying?"
To coax the vocal performance out of La La Brooks, Phil Spector dimmed the lights in the studio and gave her specific instructions. "He said, 'Think of somebody kissing you,'" Brooks told us. "I was a kid, so I'm not going to think like that. So he would turn off the lights, I would have a little light on my music, on my words, and then he said, 'Now, concentrate.' And I said (singing), 'Well, he walked up to me and he asked me if I wanted to dance.' He said, 'That's the way you do it!'
So I guess he had to train my mind to think that I was talking about a boy. He knew how to get things out of you."
This was The Crystals' last US Top 40 hit, as Phil Spector soon lost interest in them and turned his attention to another girl-group called The Ronettes. The song's first appearance on an album was on a various-artist compilation of Phil Spector's artists entitled Today's Hits.
In 1965, the Beach Boys recorded a version titled "Then I Kissed Her," which reached UK #4.
The flip side of the record was an instrumental called "Brother Julius," which was named after a hamburger stand near the Gold Star studio where the recording sessions took place. Spector usually put throwaway songs on the B-sides of his singles so the DJs wouldn't play them instead of the A-sides.
This song opens the 1987 movie Adventures in Babysitting, where Elisabeth Shue dances to it while getting ready for a date. It also plays throughout a scene in the 1990 film Goodfellas where Ray Liotta takes his wife out to the Copacabana. The song was also used in a 2006 episode of The Simpsons called "Marge and Homer Turn a Couple Play."
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