You’ve heard this story before, but the Chiffons were just three friends who went to high school together in New York City and spent their lunch hours singing together in the cafeteria. The girls were originally a trio; Judy Craig, Patricia Bennett and Barbara Lee. One day while they were singing a guy named Ronnie Mack walked into the room and liked what he heard. He had a song he had written that he thought would be great for them. He asked if they minded adding a fourth member and so Sylvia Peterson, who was a friend of Mack’s, joined the group. They called themselves The Chiffons.
They pooled their money and got $25 together, enough for a short recording session in one of the local New York studios. They recorded “He’s So Fine” and another song “Oh My Lover.” Now, they had a demo and Ronnie Mack began pitching it everywhere he could. He walked into the offices of Capitol Records where Jay Siegel of the group The Tokens (remember “The Lion Sleeps Tonight?”) listened to the demo and wanted to record it. Unfortunately the higher authorities at Capitol didn’t like it and so they peddled it elsewhere. They found a small new label called Laurie Records who loved the song and soon, they had a record.
Jay Siegel and the Tokens followed along and played backup on the record. They expected the song “Oh My Lover” to be the hit, but of course, it wasn’t. The disc jockeys liked “He’s So Fine.” When they first recorded the song, the “do-lang, do-lang” which is sung right at the beginning of the song wasn’t there. It was way in the background, barely heard. One of the engineers thought they should bring those words to the front and lead off the song with them. And, so a million seller was born.
Unfortunately, Ronnie Mack did not live to see much of the fame that resulted from the song. Just about the time the song hit the charts, he collapsed on the street and was taken to the hospital where he soon died of Hodgkin’s Disease at the age of 23. The Chiffons had four other Top 40 songs, two of which are well known. “One Fine Day” (#5) later in 1963 and “Sweet Talkin’ Guy” (#10) in 1966.
What really puts this song into a permanent place in music history is that in 1971, someone noticed the similarity between “He’s So Fine” and George Harrison’s song “My Sweet Lord.” If you play them back to back, the music is almost identical. By this time a company called Bright Tunes Music owned the song. The court case spent over ten years in the system and eventually ended with a ruling in favor of Bright Tunes. George Harrison admitted he may have “subconsciously” used the music for his song. The whole thing was resolved when George Harrison bought the the company, Bright Tunes, so everyone was happy.
“He’s So Fine” entered the pop chart on March 9, 1963 and spent four weeks at number one.