He's a Rebel
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"He's a Rebel" is a song written by Gene Pitney that was originally recorded by the girl group the Blossoms. Produced by Phil Spector, their version was issued as a single credited to the Crystals, which topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in November 1962. It was Spector's first number one hit since "To Know Him Is to Love Him" (1958).
|"He's a Rebel"|
|Single by The Crystals|
|from the album He's a Rebel|
|B-side||"I Love You Eddie"|
|Genre||Rock and roll|
|The Crystals singles chronology|
He's a Rebel
The song is about a girl in love with a young man who spurns society's conventions. Despite his being misunderstood by others, the singer claims he is sweet and faithful and vows to be the same towards him. Steve Douglas performs a saxophone solo during the song's bridge. The piano riff at the beginning was contributed by Al DeLory. Unusually for Spector productions, no strings played on the track.
Pitney wrote "He's a Rebel" for The Shirelles, but they declined. Spector learned Vikki Carr was to record it for Liberty Records as her debut, and wanted his own version on sale first. The Crystals were touring on the east coast of the USA at the time, so Spector had The Blossoms, a Los Angeles group, record the track. He credited The Crystals on the record; Mary Thomas recalled that "our mouths fell open" when she and her groupmates heard a disc jockey announce "the new Crystals song." The quintet was then obliged to add "He's a Rebel" to their live repertoire, even though lead singer Barbara Alston could not mimic Blossoms lead singer Darlene Love. For this reason, 15-year-old Dolores "LaLa" Brooks became the lead singer the following year with the follow-up "Then He Kissed Me".
"He's a Rebel" was released in late August 1962, with the b-side "I Love You Eddie." By November 3, "He's a Rebel" had reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The number two song was Pitney's "Only Love Can Break a Heart", giving him (as a songwriter or performer) the two top-selling singles in the U.S. (Pitney never hit the U.S. No. 1 spot as a performer.) In the United Kingdom, "He's a Rebel" peaked at 19.
- Lead Vocals – Darlene Love, Edna Wright (co-lead during chorus)
- Backing Vocals – Edna Wright, Fanita James, Gracia Nitzsche, Gloria Jones, Jean King and Bobby Sheen
- Instrumentation – The Wrecking Crew
- Drums - Hal Blaine
- The July 1962 session was arranged by Jack Nitzsche and engineered by Larry Levine.
Barbi Benton recorded a cover on her 1976 album Something New.
In 1977, The Boones recorded a cover as the B side of the Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life". After Boone's debut album, a cover of the ABBA song, "Hasta Mañana", replaced "He's a Rebel" in a later pressing.
Also in 1977, Los Angeles-based Punk band the Zippers recorded a cover version.
Maureen McGovern recorded a cover on her 1979 album. Maureen McGovern
In 2011, the song was sampled by electro-rap duo Chiddy Bang for "Rebel."
Rapper G-Eazy samples the song in his song "Rebel"
- "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". RollingStone.com. Retrieved 2008-06-19.
- "100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time: Critics' Picks". Billboard. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
- Billboard Music Week Hot 100", Billboard. November 3, 1962. Retrieved July 5, 2019.
- Hartman, Kent (2012). The Wrecking Crew. St. Martin’s Griffin. pp. 261–263. ISBN 978-1-250-03046-7.
- Phil Spector: Back to MONO (1958–1969) ABKCO Records, 1991, liner notes
- Scherman, Tony, Backbeat: The Earl Palmer Story, forward by Wynton Marsalis, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C., 1999 p. 176
- Luis Tovar. "MP3: Chiddy Bang – "Rebel" at Pretty Much Amazing | PMA". Prettymuchamazing.com. Retrieved 2012-01-06.
- Anthony, David (11 August 2015). "Chumped covers The Crystals". The A.V. Club. Onion, Inc. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits. Billboard Books.
- Ribowsky, Mark (2000). He's A Rebel: Phil Spector, Rock and Roll's Legendary Producer. Cooper Square Press.
- Unterburg, Richie. AllMusic review. Retrieved April 3, 2007.