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.