Sunday, January 27, 2008

Blossoms, Dearie

All right, see if you can follow this: Back in the early 1960s, there was a singing group called the Blossoms that provided backing vocals for people like Ray Charles and Doris Day in their studio recordings. Now, Phil Spector had gotten his hands on a song called "He's a Rebel" (written by Gene Pitney) that he wanted his group the Crystals to cut as a follow-up to their hits "There's No Other (Like My Baby)" and "Uptown." Afraid someone else would record the song first and with the Crystals on the road, Spector enlisted the Blossoms, behind lead singer Darlene Wright (left), to sing "He's a Rebel" - but he released the song under the name the Crystals. (The real Crystals found out about this when they heard the song on the radio; backup singer LaLa Brooks, the Crystal whose voice sounded most like Wright's, quickly learned the song and the girls added it to their stage shows.)

Although the Crystals would later go on to record more material under their own name, Spector liked the Blossoms enough to use them on another recording, his unlikely hit version of "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah," which went to Number Eight early in 1963. This time, Spector called the group Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, even though there was no such person as Bob B. Soxx.

After all that work, Wright began to realize that she was a valued member of Spector's repertory, and insisted that she'd only sing for him if she could do so under her own name. Spector agreed, to a point - he made her change her name to the zippier Darlene Love, and it was as Darlene Love that she embarked on a career that has extended to this very day.

In the end, Darlene Wright made records as part of the Blossoms, the Crystals, Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, and as Darlene Love. (She also did backing vocals on Cheech and Chong's "Basketball Jones.") And you thought Eric Clapton was in a lot of bands.

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