He's So Fine
|"He's So Fine"|
|Single by The Chiffons|
|from the album He's So Fine|
|B-side||Oh My Lover|
|Format||45 rpm record|
|Producer(s)||Phil Margo, Mitch Margo, Jay Siegal, and Hank Medress|
|The Chiffons singles chronology|
"He's So Fine" is a recording by The Chiffons which topped the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks in the spring of 1963. One of the most instantly recognizable Golden Oldies with its doo-lang doo-lang doo-lang background vocal, "He's So Fine" is also renowned as the plaintiff song in the now-infamous plagiarism case against George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord".
The Chiffons version
"He's So Fine" was written by Ronald Mack, an acquaintance of the Chiffons' members who set himself up as their manager after overhearing them sing in their high school's lunch room. Mack elicited the interest of Bright Tunes Corporation, a production company run by the Tokens who produced the Chiffons singing "He's So Fine" and two other Mack compositions at Capitol Recording Studios; the Tokens themselves - who'd never previously played on a recording session - provided the instrumentation, with the services of drummer Gary Chester.
Originally, "Oh, My Lover", one of the two other songs, was considered the potential hit but the completed track for "He's So Fine" with its now classic 'Doo-lang doo-lang doo-lang' background vocal - the suggestion of the session's sound engineer Johnny Cue - seemed an obvious smash, although Capitol Records for whom the Tokens were house producers rejected the track: Jay Siegal of the Tokens would recall Capitol president Voyle Gilmore dismissing the track as "too trite...too simple". The Tokens shopped "He's So Fine" to ten labels before placing it with Laurie Records. Siegal - "We played it and they locked the doors and said, 'You're not getting out of here. We want that record.'...Of course, we'd already been turned down by ten companies - give us eighty cents and we'd have given you the record."
Released in December 1962, "He's So Fine" entered the national charts in February 1963 attaining the #1 position on March 30 and remaining #1 for a four-week period and also made it to number one on the soul singles chart. Billboard ranked the record as the No. 5 song of 1963. "He's So Fine" was also a #16 hit in the UK.
The Chiffons' two later Top 10 hits both contain echoes of "He's So Fine", although neither song was written by Ronald Mack, who died soon after the Chiffons had recorded his song. "One Fine Day" was written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin who had had Little Eva record the song before shopping it to the Chiffons after the group hit with "He's So Fine", and "Sweet Talking Guy" - in which the background vocalists sing: "He's so fine" - was co-written by the co-founder of Laurie Records, Eliot Greenberg. Also after the Chiffons had had hits with "He's So Fine" and "One Fine Day"1 the Tokens especially wrote the song "A Love So Fine" to be their next single: it managed a #40 peak.
- 1The Chiffons actually had the non-charting single release "Lucky Me" between "He's So Fine" and "One Fine Day".
"Our Day Will Come" by Ruby and the Romantics
|Billboard Hot 100 number one single
March 30, 1963 - April 20, 1963
"I Will Follow Him" by Little Peggy March
"Our Day Will Come" by Ruby and the Romantics
|'Billboard' Hot R&B Sides number-one single
April 6, 1963 - April 30, 1963 (four weeks)
"Baby Workout" by Jackie Wilson
The Angels released a version on their 1963 album, My Boyfriend's Back. Jody Miller had a #5 C&W hit with her 1971 remake of "He's So Fine"; this version - which omits the original's 'doo lang' background vocal, and plays on the similarities with "My Sweet Lord" by playing the same notes in the guitar solos - also crossed over to #53 on the Pop charts and gave Miller her career best chart placing with a #2 ranking on the Easy Listening charts.
1978 saw two disparate remakes of "He's So Fine" chart. First in May Jane Olivor's remake reached #77: her version of "He's So Fine" - in the vein of Cissy Houston's 1971 take on the Ronettes' "Be My Baby" - reinvented the girl-group classic as a lush ballad. Two months later an attempted replication of the original "He's So Fine" credited to Kristy and Jimmy McNichol reached #70. The latter version only featured Kristy, the duo credit reflecting the track's parent 'Kristy and Jimmy McNichol' album which was produced by Philip Margo and Mitch Margo who - as members of the Tokens - had produced the Chiffons' original.
In 1987 Jonathan King put his 1971 version of "He's So Fine" as the B-side of his remake of the Cat Stevens song, "Wild World". King remade "Wild World" to corroborate his contention that the Pet Shop Boys has plagiarized it with their hit "It's a Sin": he chose "He's So Fine" as the B-side to stress his position due to the songs' involvement in the plagiarism suit described in the following section. His version was played in the court room by the Chiffons legal team.
- The classic 'doo-lang' background lyric from "He's So Fine" was utilized by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in their composition "Shang a Doo Lang" which the Rolling Stones recorded in November 1963: that version was never released but a version by Adrienne Posta was a single in 1964. The 1979 single "You're Gonna Get What's Comin'" by Bonnie Raitt concludes with a repetition of the 'doo-lang' lyric. In 1982 Aneka had the single "Ooh Shooby Doo Doo Lang", the title standing in for the vocals which a career background singer laments her lot.
"My Sweet Lord"
On February 10, 1971, Bright Tunes Music Corporation filed suit alleging that the current George Harrison hit "My Sweet Lord" was a plagiarism of "He's So Fine". The case did not go to trial until February 1976 when the judge ruled on the liability portion of the suit in favor of Bright Tunes, determining that Harrison had committed "subconscious" plagiarism. The suit to determine damages was scheduled for November 1976 but delayed until February 1981, by which time Allen Klein, Harrison's onetime manager who had been his legal adviser in the first phase of the suit, had become the plaintiff by virtue of purchasing Bright Tunes. The final decision was that Harrison himself would purchase Bright Tunes from Klein for $587,000—the amount Klein had paid for the corporation—and although litigation continued for at least ten more years that decision was upheld.
In 1975 the Chiffons would record a version of "My Sweet Lord", attempting to capitalize on the publicity generated by the lawsuit. Harrison's "This Song" was written in reaction to the plagiarism suit.
- "HE S SO FINE". ACE Title Search. American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Retrieved 2011-06-03.
- [dead link]
- Artie Wayne. "Hangin' in: Spectropop presents Hank Medress," Spectropop.com, 2006. Retrieved 2012-01-20.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 116.
- Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1963
- "Bright Tunes Music v. Harrisongs Music". Columbia Law School Arthur W. Diamond Law Library Music Plagiarism Project. 2002. Retrieved 2007-09-05.