Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Barbara Alston of The Crystals Passes On

Barbara Alston, who was one of The Crystals at the height of the girl group's career, died on February 16 at the age of 74. The cause was complications from the flu.

Barbara Alston was born on December 29 1942 in Baltimore. She grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Before The Crystals, she was a member of a group called The Delphi Thezonians, who won a talent show. It was in 1961 that Miss Alston, Mary Thomas, Dee Dee Kenniebrew, Myrna Giraud, and Patsy Wright formed The Crystals with Miss Alston's . The group signed with Phil Spector's label Philles. Their first single was "There's No Other (Like My Baby)", on which Barbara Alston sang lead. She also sang lead on their second single, "Uptown". Miss Alston also sang lead on The Crystals' third single, about which she felt uneasy. "He Hit Me (and It Felt like a Kiss)" proved so controversial that Philles was forced to withdraw it from circulation.

The Crystals' next two singles would not actually be performed by The Crystals. Instead they were sang by Darlene Love and her group The Blossoms. The singles were the no. 1 record "He's a Rebel" and the song "He's Sure the Boy I Love". The Crystals would return to singing their own songs with "Da Doo Ron Ron (When He Walked Me Home)", although the vocals were taken over by Dolores "LaLa" Brooks, Barbara Alston was shy and not particularly comfortable singing lead.  "Da Doo Ron Ron" went to no. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Their next single, "Then He Kissed Me", went to no. 6. Sadly, "Then He Kissed Me" proved to be their last hit. None of their singles released in 1964 reached the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100. Towards the end of the year, Barbara Alston left The Crystals.

In 1966 Barbara Alston appeared in the original 1966 production of Cabaret as one of the Kit Kat Girls. She would late part in a short lived reunion of The Crystals. For most of the remainder of her life she held secretarial positions, first in New York City and later in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

Barbara Alston was a great singer. She a mellifluous voice that was perfect for a lead vocalist. Had her shyness not made her uncomfortable at the forefront she could have been one of the all time great lead singers. As it was, she was a member of one of the most successful girl groups of the Sixties.

1 comment:


I believe Barbara Alston also supplied lead vocals for three recordings that probably do not feature any other Crystals. The first is "Some Of Your Lovin'", a big hit for Dusty Springfield, but hers wasn't the original version. The original is credited to The Honey Bees on Fontana Records F-1505, released in early 1965. The flipside is another great song, "You Turn Me On, Boy." Both songs were written and produced by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. The third record was never released. It's called "Please Be My Boyfriend" and was recorded under Phil Spector's auspices between July and September of 1964. It was cut during the time when The Crystals were in the process of ending their relationship with Spector. Some people claim that Barbara doesn't sing on either of these tracks. In response to them, all I have to say is: Listen to them (you can find them all on YouTube), then listen to Barbara's vocals on "Uptown" and "He Hit Me" and make up your own mind.