Barbara Alston, a singer for the ’60s girl group The Crystals that made its name with hits like “Then He Kissed Me,” has died at the age of 74. Alston’s daughter Donielle Prophete told BBC News that she died on Feb. 16 due to complications from the flu.
“She loved The Crystals,” Prophete told BBC News. “She always talked about singing with them, the work they created together. She loved the sisterhood part of it, the traveling.”
The Crystals began in 1961 — besides Alston, the other founding members were Dee Dee Kennibrew, Mary Thomas, Patricia Wright, and La La Brooks. All five women had grown up singing in church, but Alston took the lead role. The group joined up with producer Phil Spector and helped him develop his “Wall of Sound” technique. The group had success with singles like “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “Then He Kissed Me,” but they also ran into controversy. Their 1962 song “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss),” written by Carole King, was controversial for its depiction of domestic violence, and Spector eventually pulled the song from rotation.
Alston left the group in 1964, but Prophete told BBC she never lost her love of music: “She would always sing around the house, especially around Christmas.”