Returning to Los Angeles, Mr. Spector worked with the Paris Sisters, a local trio, producing “I Love How You Love Me,” a feathery, echo-laden ballad with silky strings that rose to No. 5 on the charts.
Mr. Spector struck gold when he began working with the Crystals, a New York group that he signed to Philles Records, a label that he and the record executive Lester Sill created in 1961, fusing their first names. Mr. Spector bought out Mr. Sill a year later.
After “There’s No Other (Like My Baby)” and “Uptown” reached the Top 20, Mr. Spector was keen to have the Crystals record the Gene Pitney composition “He’s a Rebel” immediately. To speed things along, he enlisted the Blossoms, a well-known Los Angeles backup group, and recorded them under the Crystals name, with Darlene Wright (whose last name he changed to Love) on lead. The record became Philles’s first No. 1 hit.
Mr. Spector shuffled his singers at will. He drafted Ms. Love and another Blossom, Fanita James, to sing with Bobby Sheen on one of his more idiosyncratic hits, “Zip-a-Dee Doo-Dah,” credited to the group Bob B. Soxx and the Bluejeans. For the singles “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “Then He Kissed Me,” he re-enlisted the original Crystals, now with a new lead singer, the 15-year-old Dolores Brooks, known as LaLa. Both songs made the Top 10.
The Crystals, along with the Ronettes and Ms. Love, all performed on “A Christmas Gift for You From Phil Spector,” a collection of holiday songs. The album, now regarded as a Spector masterpiece, was released the day of the Kennedy assassination in 1963. Mr. Spector withdrew it from sale, and it sank without a trace.
With the Righteous Brothers, the wall of sound assumed towering heights, but Mr. Spector surpassed himself when he put Tina Turner in the studio in 1966 to record “River Deep, Mountain High,” which employed 21 musicians and an equal number of backup vocalists.