The Crystals were one of the girl groups of the early Sixties who defined the genre of girl groups. They had been recording for producer Phil Spector and had had two hits before “He’s a Rebel.” When Gene Pitney wrote “He’s a Rebel” and pitched it to Spector, he wanted to record it very bad. He had heard that Vikki Carr was going to record it and he wanted to release it first. The problem was that The Crystals were on tour on the East Coast and Spector’s studios were in Los Angeles, so he brought in another girl group called the Blossoms. The Blossoms never had a Top 40 hit, but they had a member who would go on to great things, a girl named Darlene Love. Imagine the surprise of the actual Crystals when they found they had a number one hit and they had never heard of it, let alone sung it.
The Crystals started out as five friends from high school. The group fluctuated over time, but centered around three of the girls, Dee Dee Kenniebrew, Patricia Wright and Melissa Grant. The actual Crystals were now required to sing “He’s a Rebel” every time they performed live and since they had not recorded it originally, they had difficulty hitting some of the high notes.
The next Crystal’s hit was also sung by The Blossoms, “He’s Sure the Boy I Love” which peaked at number eleven. “He’s a Rebel” literally put Phil Spector on the map. Up until this point, he was relatively unknown, but after this song, everyone knew who he was. He is even credited for inventing the “Girl Group” phenomenon. He is also known for his famous “Wall of Sound” that can be heard behind almost all of his recordings.
One thing of note, which I find interesting is that Sonny Bono, who we all know went on to marry Cher and become half of Sonny and Cher was playing the drums on “He’s a Rebel.”
The Crystals had two more hits after “He’s a Rebel,” “Da Doo Ron Ron” (#3) and “And Then He Kissed Me” (#6.) They performed with various members over the years and are still active in some form today. Darlene Love went on to join Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, among others and became very famous in her own right. When David Letterman hosted The Late Show, he would have her on every December to sing “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)” which is a great Christmas song.
“He’s a Rebel” entered the pop charts on October 6, 1962 and spent two weeks at number one.