There was a time in the history of sound recording that the producer did not normally get a name check on the record label. A producer generally occupied an anonymous and non-descript position within a record company, one producer being no more individual in technique than the other. For the most part this was driven by the technology of making a record, something that for the most part consisted of nothing more than pointing some mikes at the musicians and letting it rip. The advent of magnetic tape and stereo changed all this, with the producer becoming intimately involved in the sonic construction of a recording. In the mid 1950s this changed, gave birth to the independent producer, a person whose abilities to create the sound image became as well known as that of the composers and the artists. At times, the producer of a recording would actually be better known than the artists on the recording itself.
Such is the case with Phil Spector. As a senior at Fairfax High in Los Angeles, Phil wrote the song To Know Him Is To Love Him, the title being taken from the epitath on his father's tombstone. Together with Annette Klinebard and Marshall Leib they auditioned for Herb Newman and Lou Bedell's Era records, home to Art & Dottie Todd and Gogi Grant. Era liked what they heard and an agreement was drawn up to record for Era's Doré label. Time was booked at Gold Star Studios in the summer of 1958. The group, known as The Teddy Bears, supplemented by drummer Sandy Nelson laid down four tracks in these sessions, and from these, To Know Him is To Love Him was selected as the top side of the first single.
The investment of US$75 resulted in Phil, only 17 at the time, having written, arranged, performed and producing one of the best selling records of the late 50s. While the record was slow to garner airplay, eventually it reached number 1 in the USA, staying there for 3 weeks. In total the record was in the top 100 for a total of 23 weeks. In Canada it reached number 1 on the CHUM charts in Toronto in December, and in the UK it hit number 1 at that same time.
In many ways, the Teddy Bear's year at the top would be a microcosm of Phil's future. After To Know Him is To Love Him would top the charts, the group moved on to Imperial. These recordings, including an LP with a twee cover photo of Phil and Marshall offering teddy bears to Annette, pale in comparison to the initial offering.
To Know Him is To Love Him has an etheral quality to it marking the beginnings of what would later evolve into Phil's trademark Wall of Sound. His magic touch managed to draw every emotion out of the vocalist, and one can truly believe that Annette truly loved the boy she was singing about. Phil would hone this to perfection in many returns to Gold Star Studios for his own Philles records, with every instrument and voice blending into one perfectly formed unit. Phil's production work actually overshadowed the artist so much that records by the Crystals or Ronnettes are just as likely to be known as Phil Spector records. His little symphonies for teens would be the soundtrack of the pre-British invasion 1960s, culminating with thr masterpeice of Ike and Tina Turner's River Deep Mountain High, a song that was ignorantly neglected by American radio. It is believed that this rejection led to Phil to withdraw from making records for a number of years. He would periodically resurface in almost every decade, with hits like Black Pearl by Sonny Charles and Checkmates Ltd in 1969 and Silence is Easy by Starsailor in 2003. The Phil Spector Christmas Album, a collection of Christmas recordings made with his Philles era artists, is reissued even today.
In 1969 Phil would be handed the Beatles' Let it Be project. His reproduction of the title track would be one of the most controversial recordings of the Beatles era. He drifted in and out of the lives of George Harrison and John Lennon throughout the 70s. His work with John on the Rock'n'Roll album would also prove to be a troublesome time. These session lead to Phil revisiting To Know Him is to Love Him, a track that would not see release until 1987 on the posthumous John Lennon album Menlove Avenue, although production of the released version is not credited to Spector.
Phil's career would launch on 45 rpm only in the USA. In Canada, Doré releaes would be via London Records, the North American arm of UK Decca. Both Doré and its parent Era would have releases on 78 in Canada. As this is number 503, it can be assumed that Doré 501 (or 500), and 502 would exist also on 78. In most other territories, such as the UK, the release would be out on London American (HLN-8733) with nothing more than an a label credit to Doré. As such Canada is the only territory known where Doré would have its own releases on 78.
Late, both Doré and Era would hit the charts with releases by Jewel Aikens, Art and Dottie Todd, Jan and Dean, and the comedy duo of Hudson and Landry, famous for their releases in the Ajax series, such as Ajax Liquor Store and Ajax Airline. Of these, only Art and Dottie Todd and Gogi Grant would appear on 78, although the Jan and Dean is possible. Of all 78s released on either label, it can easily be said that To Know him is To Love Him carries a wealth of superlatives ranging from most memorable recording to most notorious character of all times.