The Chiffons

The Chiffons formed in 1960, when high school schoolmates Judy Craig, Patricia Bennett and Barbara Lee started singing together in the New York City borough of the Bronx. When their Doo-Wop-influenced harmonies and sassy demeanor were paired with hook-laden arrangements and catchy songs from New York City’s top songwriters, the Chiffons became one of the best-known purveyors of the “girl group” sound.

The band's first hit, "He's So Fine," was written by their manager, 22-year-old songwriter Ronnie Mack. Mack initially pitched the song to the vocal group the Tokens, who were just coming off their 1961 hit “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and looking to expand into record production. Smelling al hit, the Tokens asked Mack to suggest a singing group: He pointed them toward the Chiffons (with new member Sylvia Peterson) and the Tokens produced the record under the name Bright Tunes Productions. “He’s So Fine” was rejected by many record companies before the small label Laurie released it in 1963. With its distinctive “doo-lang, doo-lang, doo-lang” background-vocal line, the song became a radio staple and million seller, holding down the No. 1 spot for four weeks.

The Chiffons followed up “He’s So Fine” with “One Fine Day,” which was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King and featured King playing the song’s piano intro. On the strength of their two hits, the group toured the U.S., often as part of package shows presented by New York disc jockey Murray the K. The group’s last Top Ten hit was “Sweet Talking Guy” in 1966. As the popularity of the Girl Group sound started to fade in the late 1960s, the Chiffons traded life on the road for 9-to-5 jobs and slowed their activity to playing oldies shows on weekends.

In 1970, just after the breakup of the Beatles, George Harrison released the single "My Sweet Lord," which became a worldwide hit. Bright Tunes, the publisher of "He's So Fine," sued Harrison for copyright infringement, citing the songs' similar melodies and chord structures. The case took years to play out, but eventually a judge found Harrison guilty of “subconscious plagiarism.” (In an odd turn, Harrison eventually purchased Bright Tunes; in yet another twist, the Chiffons went on to record "My Sweet Lord" in 1975.)

Bennett and Peterson are retired, and Lee died from a heart attack in 1992, but Craig still leads a version of The Chiffons, who are a regular presence on the oldies circuit.