They were credited with six Top 40 hits produced by Phil Spector, even though their voices are heard on only four of them.
In 1962 Gerard was replaced by La La Brooks and Thomas left the group, reducing the group to a quartet.
The group took their name from the daughter of Leroy Bates, who later composed their first hit, "There's No Other (Like My Baby)."
Barbara Alston sang lead on their first two hits, "There's No Other (Like My Baby)" (1961) and "Uptown," (1962) - but Spector's "Wall of Sound" was the real star of all the Philles records credited to the Crystals.
Their third Spector-produced single was the infamous "He Hit Me (and It Felt Like a Kiss)." Spector was starting his plan to wrest complete control of Philles Records from partners Lester Sill and Harry Finfer -- needless to say, the single did not sell.
While at Liberty Records as the company's West Coast A&R head (in 1962), Spector heard Gene Pitney's demo of "He's a Rebel." He promptly resigned his position as his boss, Snuff Garrett, produced a version by Vikki Carr to be released as her first single. Spector assembled his musicians to do HIS version, but the Crystals were 3000 miles away in New York City; so he recruited the Blossoms (Darlene Love, Famita James, and Gracia Nitzschke) to sing "He's a Rebel."
Spector used the royalties of "He's a Rebel" to buy out his partners, with the stipulation that his ex-partners would share in the profits of the next two Crystals singles. For those singles, he used the Blossoms to pose as the Crystals (again) for the #11 hit "He's Sure the Boy I Love"; but the Crystals actually sang on the next single credited to them, entitled "(Let's Do) The Screw" -- a five-minute song punctuated with the voice of Phil Spector's lawyer saying "Do the Screw." Only one copy of the 45 was pressed and distributed - to ex-partner Lester Sill. It garnered zero airplay and earned zero royalties. Spector was now sole owner of Philles Records.
Spector tried to make Darlene Love pretend to be the Crystals on "Da Doo Ron Ron," but as the recording was being completed, Love insisted upon being signed to an artist's contract (instead of getting session fees, as she did for the other "Crystals" singles), so Spector erased Love's lead vocals and had La La Brooks' voice dubbed in instead. Darlene Love can still be heard in the background, as can Cher, and according to a couple of sources, Sonny, too.
The Crystals can finally be heard as a group on "And Then He Kissed Me" (with La La Brooks doing the lead), their last Top 40 hit as Spector lost interest in them and turned his attention to another girl group, the Ronnettes.
Brad Wind - Miami, FL, for all above
Barbara Alston recorded the lead vocals for the majority of their first few songs. However, she had a fear of singing in front of audiences, which is why she did not like singing lead at all. When Brooks joined the group, all the members loved her voice. Alston insisted to Phil Spector that Brooks be the lead singer. Although Spector was reluctant to have Brooks singing lead (he didn't like her voice at first), he gave in and Brooks was the lead singer from then on.
In 1962, when Brooks replaced a pregnant Girard, Thomas left the group to get married, reducing the group to a quartet. In 1964, Wright quit to attend college and was replaced by Frances Collins. Later that same year, Alston left reducing the group to a trio. Finally, in 1966, they disbanded.
Jerro - New Alexandria, PA, for above 2
Frances Collins passed away on Christmas Eve 2016. Her son Albert Johnson, aka Prodigy, was a rapper who was one half of the hip-hop duo Mobb Deep along with Havoc. Prodigy also had some success as an actor and author. He died on June 20, 2017, as a result of complications related to his sickle-cell anemia.