Among aficionados of the girl group sound, there can't be five acts more beloved than the Crystals. Their best-known songs, which include "He's a Rebel," "Uptown," "Da Doo Ron Ron," "Then He Kissed Me," and "There's No Other Like My Baby," are among the finest examples of the best that American rock & roll had to offer in the period before the British Invasion; and decades into the CD era, the group's records are still prized in their original vinyl pressings even by non-collectors, who seem to recognize that there was something special about the Crystals' work. The group was originally a quintet consisting of Barbara Alston (born 1945), Dee Dee Kennibrew (born 1945), Mary Thomas (born 1946), Patricia Wright, and Myrna Gerrard, organized by Benny Wells while they were still in high school. All of whom had started out singing in churches; Barbara Alston was Wells' niece, and although she later became known as their lead singer on many of their records, Alston was actually recruited as a backup singer by her uncle. Under Wells' guidance, they began performing in more of a pop vein, and one of the gigs that they got was cutting demos for the publisher Hill & Range, which brought them to the Brill Building in midtown Manhattan. It was there, while they were rehearsing, that they chanced to be heard by Phil Spector, who at that time was just starting up his own label, Philles Records. He was in the market for new talent and the Crystals -- who, by that time, had lost Gerrard and added La La Brooks to their lineup as lead singer -- were just what he was looking for, sort of. He liked their sound and their range, but he didn't initially like Brooks' voice and insisted on Alston taking the lead, somewhat reluctantly on her part.