Pretty Little Angel Eyes

Album: Pretty Little Angel Eyes (1961)
Charted: 47 7
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  • Curtis Lee wrote this with Tommy Boyce, who along with Bobby Hart, wrote many hit songs for The Monkees. In his book How to Write a Hit Song and Sell It, Boyce explained that he was under orders from his publishing company to write a hit for Lee, who was an up-and-coming young singer. When Lee went on tour, Boyce told him to think up a title, and inspired by a girl he met in Florida with beautiful eyes, returned with "Angel Eyes." Kent Kotal, who interviewed Boyce for the Forgotten Hits newsletter, explains what happened next: "One of the most popular songs on the radio at the time was "Ebony Eyes" by The Everly Brothers. Tommy started to play the chord progression of that tune, hoping for some spark of inspiration. When that didn't work, he began to play the chords to that week's #1 song, "Blue Moon" by The Marcels. The accelerated tempo of the Marcels' song got them to singing their first lyrics: "Angel eyes, I really love you so. Angel eyes, I'll never let you go." They felt that they were on to something. By evening, the lyrics were nearly complete.
    Feeling pretty good about what they had done, Boyce decided to take a walk and, while passing a record store, heard the old Cleftones' hit "Little Girl of Mine" coming out of the loudspeakers. As soon as he heard the beginning: "Little, little, little, little, lit... Yeah, little, little, little, little, lit," he knew that he had the intro for their new song. Quickly, the opening lyrics became "Pretty little angel eyes, pretty little angel eyes" (and, ultimately, so did the title of the song!).
    Amazingly, when they first performed the song for their publisher, he wasn't impressed. "I thought I told you to write me a hit!" He said again. But Boyce and Lee were convinced that they had written a hit and decided to play it for their publisher's girlfriend, who immediately loved the song. She convinced her boyfriend that they had a smash on their hands and he finally gave the green light for Curtis to record the tune. And a smash it was, becoming Curtis Lee's only Top 40 hit.
  • Phil Spector produced this track. Over the next few years, he became Pop music's top producer, with hits like "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" and "Be My Baby."
  • Rock 'n' Roll revivalists Showaddywaddy re-made this in 1978, taking it to #5 in the UK charts. Two years previously, the group achieved their only chart-topper with a cover of another Curtis Lee song "Under The Moon Of Love."

Comments: 3

  • John L from Macon, GaDoes anyone know who played the tenor sax solo?
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyPer:
    Curtis Lee, best remembered for his early Phil Spector production of "Pretty Little Angel Eyes" (#7) in 1961, died Thursday (January 8th, 2015) of cancer while visiting doctors in San Diego...
    The Yuma, Arizona native was 75. Groomed to be a teen idol after Elvis went into the Army (he had previously recorded three singles while still in his teens in Arizona as well as two more in Hollywood), Curtis was signed by Ray Peterson's Dunes Records in New York in 1960...
    However, his early recordings-- including the bubbling-under "Pledge Of Love" (#110-1961)-- made no one forget the King. Dunes pulled out all the stops for Curtis on "Angel Eyes" though, getting Tommy Boyce to write it (based on a title suggestion by Curtis), Phil to produce it (Spector had also produced Ray's version of "Corrina Corrina") and pairing him with the Halos ("Nag") for the catchy background...
    Phil also produced the follow-up, "Under The Moon Of Love" (#46-1961) but without him, Curtis was back to bubbling-under on "Just Another Fool" (#110-1962) and soon he and Dunes parted company, leaving him as just another one-hit wonder. In later years, he became a home builder in Yuma...
    May he R.I.P.
  • Teresa from Mechelen, BelgiumI like this song very much, I have it on the cd-box of Phil Spector called "Back to Mono". Phil Spector, you are so TOP, you are and you will stay my number one 4 ever and ever. Love your songs, love you!
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