Phil Spector is music legend. Named the “First Tycoon of Teen” by American Journalist Tom Wolfe, Spector has graced the music scene producing over twenty-five Top 40 hits from 1960 to 1965. His renowned “Wall of Sound” changed the music industry and helped shape the production of well-known artists and songs such as “Zip A Dee Doo Dah” by Bob B. Soxx and The Blue Jeans, “To Know Him Is To Love Him” by The Teddy Bears, and the “Let it Be” by The Beatles. Among his impressive list of accomplishments and A-List clientele, Spector is also treasured for his impact on Christmas.
Released on November 22, 1963, Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector was birthed during a time of national mourning. Having released on the date of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the album peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard magazine’s Christmas Albums sales chart. The low rank was considered to be an effect of the United States’ moratorium against rock music during it’s time of bereavement. Spector, a personal fan of the late President reacted to the news by pulling the album from the marketplace.
Despite the national tragedy, the album was eventually re-released by Apple Records in 1972. The album then enjoyed a No. 6 ranking on the Billboard magazine’s Christmas Albums sales chart and eventually grew to be the season’s most iconic album. Introducing Christmas classics like “White Christmas” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and all-star performers like Darlene Love, The Ronettes and the Crystals, the album’s titles are beloved anthems of the Christmas season.
The production of the Christmas album was a Spector family affair. Featuring the all-star lineup of Spector’s artists, The Ronettes, Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, The Crystals, and Darlene Love, the album is a culmination of the talents and efforts of the Philles Records family. The four groups often intertwined within the label. The Ronettes and Darlene Love both filled in and recorded under The Crystals name due to scheduling concerns caused by The Crystal’s New York location and Spector’s LA based studio. Darlene Love also sang as a Blue Jean with The Blossoms’ Fanita James, both backing up Bob B. Soxx.
Another notable element of Spector’s Christmas album is the fact that it was the first to shine line on not only the key singers, but also the engineering and instrumental contributors to the album. Fans were given the opportunity to study the names of the whole team, often referred to as “The Wrecking Crew” at Spector’s Gold Star Studios. Notable production players included Jack Nitzsche (arranger), and Larry Levine (studio engineer).
From Phil Spector’s industry changing “Wall of Sound” technique to highlighting his talented crew of artists and engineers Phil Spector is a music industry genius. The iconic look and sound of The Ronettes preceded the likes of Amy Winehouse setting the stage for all female groups and set the basis for recording full and vibrant sound. It was his devotion to perfection that drove and created A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector and thanks to that passion the album and every song in it has become the standard in festive holiday music. Thank you Phil Spector for creating the most perfect soundtrack for the holiday season.
Tags: phil spector, spirit of christmas, christmas, wall of sound, bob b soxx, the blue jeans, darlene love, ronettes, crystals, blossoms