He's So Fine
|"He's So Fine"|
|Single by The Chiffons|
|from the album He's So Fine|
|B-side||"Oh My Lover"|
|Released||January 1963 (US)|
February 1963 (CAN)
March 1963 (UK)
April 12, 1963 (AUS)
May 1963 (Germany)
|Producer(s)||Phil Margo, Mitch Margo, Jay Siegal, and Hank Medress|
|The Chiffons singles chronology|
"He's So Fine" is a song written by Ronnie Mack. It was recorded by The Chiffons who 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 famous 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 harmonise 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 (New York, 165 W. 46th St.)
Originally one of the two other songs: "Oh, My Lover", 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. However Capitol Records (for whom the Tokens were house producers) rejected the track: Jay Siegal of the Tokens recalled Capitol's 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. According to 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."
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, 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.
Released in early 1963, "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. Billboard named the song #73 on their list of 100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time.
|US Billboard Hot 100||429|
"My Sweet Lord" lawsuit
On February 10, 1971, Bright Tunes Music Corporation filed suit alleging the then 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.
Jody Miller version
|"He's So Fine"|
|Single by Jody Miller|
|from the album He's So Fine|
|B-side||"Your Number Two"|
|Released||May 12, 1971|
|Recorded||February 17, 1971|
|Jody Miller singles chronology|
Jody Miller had a Top Ten C&W hit with her remake of "He's So Fine" recorded in a February 17, 1971 session at the Columbia studio in Nashville and issued May 12, 1971 as the advance single from Miller's He's So Fine album, that album—released August 1971—being Miller's second full-length collaboration with producer Billy Sherrill. Miller's remake omits the original's 'doo lang' background vocal. Besides the title cut, the He's So Fine album featured Miller's remake of the 1965 Barbara Lewis hit "Baby I'm Yours": Miller's third Sherrill-produced album There's a Party Going On afforded Miller C&W hit remakes of the Ronettes' "Be My Baby" and the Teddy Bears' "To Know Him is to Love Him".
Impressed by the 1968 Tammy Wynette hit "Stand by Your Man", Miller had contacted that track's producer Billy Sherrill in the hopes of reviving her own flagging recording career and after Look at Mine, Miller's first album in Sherrill's charge, generated two Top Twenty C&W hits in 1970, Sherrill opted for a new musical direction for Miller who recalls: "He said I didn't phrase my words like a country singer, so we took some old, sexy pop songs and put in a little boppy steel guitar".
Miller's cover version of "He's So Fine" peaked at #5 C&W in July 1971, and crossed over to the Pop charts and also Easy Listening charts with July 1971 peaks of #53 Pop and #2 Easy Listening, the latter stat representing Miller's alltime best chart showing. The song also peaked at number 28 in Australia. "He's So Fine" also afforded Miller a Top Ten C&W hit in Canada with a #3 peak, with the track reaching #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart for Canada and crossing over to #46 on the Canadian Pop chart. In Australia Miller's "He's So Fine" charted with a #28 peak.
1978: Jane Olivor / Kristy McNichol remakes
In the spring of 1978 two disparate remakes of "He's So Fine" were released as singles with both singles eventually ranking on the Billboard Hot 100. Jane Olivor recorded the song as a ballad for her album Stay the Night, producer Jason Darrow having wanted a "lighter song" for the album: Olivor had been initially unmoved by Darrow's endorsement of a slow version of "He's So Fine" – whose lyrics Olivor found vapid – but the singer saw the validity of her producer's suggestion after Darrow played Olivor the Chiffons' 45 rpm single at 331⁄3 rpm. Released as a single in April 1978, "He's So Fine" debuted on the Hot 100 dated 20 May 1978 becoming the second of Olivor's two Hot 100 entries and with its eventual peak of #77 becoming the more successful as Olivor's precedent Hot 100 single "Some Enchanted Evening" had peaked at #91 in 1976. (Olivor would "bubble under the Hot 100" chart in 1980 when her single "Don't Let Go of Me" peaked at #108.) "He's So Fine" would also afford Olivor her sole ranking on the Billboard Easy Listening chart where its peak would be #21, also ranking in the Canadian singles chart with a #71 peak and rising as high as #3 on the Canadian Easy Listening chart.
May 1978 saw the release of an attempted replication of the original "He's So Fine" credited to Kristy and Jimmy McNichol although the track only featured the former, being credited to the duo to reflect its 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: three members of the Chiffons: Patricia Bennett, Barbara Lee, and Sylvia Peterson, sang back-up on the McNichol remake of "He's So Fine." Both the McNichol version of "He's So Fine" and that by Jane Olivor appeared in the Record World ranking of the singles at positions #101 to #150 as early as the chart dated 20 May 1978 although the McNichol take would not debut on the Record World ranking of the top 100 singles until that dated 5 August 1978 two weeks subsequent to the track's debut on the Billboard Hot 100 dated 22 July 1978 (one week after the final Hot 100 appearance of the Jane Olivor take whose Hot 100 tenure ended as of the chart dated 15 July 1978): on the Cash Box Top 100 the McNichol "He's So Fine" made its debut on the chart dated 30 July 1978. The McNichol "He's So Fine" would peak at #70 on the Hot 100. (The chart fortunes of both the Olivor and McNichol takes on "He's So Fine" varies widely according to which of the three music trade periodicals is cited: Record World affords a peak of #87 to both the Oliver and McNichol versions while according to Cash Box the Olivor take peaked at #67, McNicol's at #83.)
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