Barbara Alston of the 60’s girl group The Crystals has died after contracting the flu at the age of 74. According to reports, she had been in a Charlotte, NC intensive care unit for two weeks fighting the illness.
The Crystals formed in 1961 as a quintet with Alston, Mary Thomas, Dolores “Dee Dee” Kenniebrew (born 1945), Myrna Giraud and Patricia “Patsy” Wright. Helped by Alston’s uncle, Benny Wells, they were soon signed with Phil Spector’s Philles Records.
Alston was, initially, the main lead singer for the group, heading their first three singles, “There’s No Other (Like My Baby)” (1961 / #20), “Uptown” (1962 / #13) and “He Hit Me (and It Felt Like a Kiss)” (1962 / Did Not Chart).
After the chart failure of the third single and because the Crystals couldn’t get from New York to L.A. as fast as Spector wanted, he brought Darlene Love and the Blossoms into the studio to record “He’s a Rebel”. Love and the Blossoms also recorded the followup, “He’s Sure the Boy I Love”.
When Spector got around to using the real Crystals again in the studio in 1963, Thomas had left making them a quartet with Dolores “La La” Brooks replacing Giraud. Alston, never being comfortable fronting the group, stepped back with Brooks taking over lead duties on such hits as “Da Doo Ron Ron (When He Walked Me Home)” (1963 / #3) and “Then He Kissed Me” (1963 / #6).
Alston ended up leaving the group towards the end of 1964, leaving them a trio.
Barbara settled into a more domestic life, raising her family and working as a title agent and secretary although, according to her children, she could often still be heard singing her Crystals music around their house.
Allen had three daughters and one son, who was murdered in 2010. She also had five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.