Rewinding the Charts: In 1962, The Crystals Scored a No. 1 in Name Only
The Phil Spector-produced “He’s a Rebel” was actually performed by another girl group, The Blossoms, led by a 21-year-old Darlene Love.
ON THE BILLBOARD HOT 100 DATED Nov. 3, 1962, The Crystals’ “He’s a Rebel” hit No. 1, giving the girl group its first and only chart-topping hit — though the quintet didn’t actually perform the track.
The backstory is a murky one. Prior to the release of “He’s a Rebel,” the actual Crystals had already charted two hits on the Hot 100 for infamous ’60s producer Phil Spector’s Philles label, and, reportedly, he wanted them to release a recording of the song before a version by singer Vikki Carr could find success.
The Crystals were not available to record the track, however, so Spector hired another girl group, The Blossoms, led by singer Darlene Love, then 21, with the understanding that they would not be credited. Members of The Crystals have refuted the story, saying that Spector simply issued the single under their name without their knowledge.
After the success of “He’s a Rebel,” The Blossoms continued to work with Spector, singing background on such classics as The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” and performing once more as The Crystals on “He’s Sure the Boy I Love.” Love eventually went solo and recorded what became her signature song: “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).”
As for The Crystals, they charted two more top 10s: “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “Then He Kissed Me,” notching their final Hot 100 hit in 1964.
Spector is serving a prison sentence after being convicted of second degree murder in the shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson. Love, now 76, went on to sing backup for Cher and Luther Vandross, appear on Broadway and be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. She won her first Grammy Award in 2015 for her work in 20 Feet From Stardom, a documentary about backup singers. She continues to tour, and, not surprisingly, her set includes “He’s a Rebel.”