There is a great deal of dispute over who sang lead on this track. Darlene Love
, who was featured in the 2013 documentary 20 Feet From Stardom
, has said that she was the lead singer on this song, which was recorded at Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles. Love sang lead on The Crystals' previous hits "He's A Rebel
" and "He's Sure the Boy I Love" because Phil Spector called in her group The Blossoms to record those songs when The Crystals couldn't make it to Los Angeles. The songs were still credited to The Crystals, and Love claims that she expected her own single release to follow.
Love has given various accounts of her side of the story, telling Katie Couric that she sang lead on "Da Doo Ron Ron," but backing off that claim in later interviews, saying that her lead vocals were wiped out and replaced by Crystals lead singer Dolores "La La" Brooks in retaliation by Spector when she asked him for an artist's contract. When the movie 20 Feet From Stardom
- which featured Love - was released in 2013, The New York Times
ran a story about the film that claimed Love sang lead on the song. Two weeks later, they ran a correction, stating: "While she did sing, it was as backup, not as the lead."
Whether she appeared on the song at all is in dispute. The person who can best answer that question is Phil Spector, but since he was in jail when 20 Feet From Stardom
was released, journalists couldn't use him to fact check Love's claims. La La Brooks, however, has her own account, which includes a phone call Spector made to his wife, Rachelle, who married him while his trial was going on. Brooks' friend, Roger L. Chemel, provided us with this photo of Brooks, Rachelle Spector, and Art Cohen (Brooks' manager)
, taken where this conversation took place. Here's the account:
On August 27, 2012, La La Brooks and Art Cohen, La La's manager, met with Rachelle Spector after an attendance at the David Letterman Show
in New York City. As the three of them joined to have dinner together at a local restaurant, Phil Spector called his wife Rachelle from the prison where he is incarcerated. La La recalls telling Rachelle to say "hi" to Phil. After the conclusion of this telephone call, La La Brooks explained the situation with Darlene Love claiming to have sung the original track of "Da Doo Ron Ron."
Rachelle Spector tells La La Brooks and Art Cohen that she was flying back to California on August 28, 2012; and that she would explain the situation to Phil Spector. Rachelle Spector flies back to California for her allowed once a month visit on that date, and Rachelle explains to Phil what Darlene Love is saying. Phil Spector tells his wife that Darlene Love did not record a track of DDRR; that Darlene Love never sang background; and that Darlene Love was never a Crystal. Phil told Rachelle that he thought Darlene Love's voice was too mature and gospely for DDRR and never considered Darlene at all for the song. Rachelle called La La Brooks that day and told her what she found out from Phil Spector.