Introduction to the Chiffons


The Chiffons were an all-girl vocal group primarily known for their hits “He’s So Fine” and “One Fine Day.” They were one of the top female groups in the early 1960s, leaving an historic mark on the music scene. Originally a trio consisting of Judy Craig on lead vocals, Patricia Bennett, and Barbara Lee, the group formed in 1960 while they were schoolmates at James Monroe High School in the Bronx. Later, singer Sylvia Peterson joined, adding a new dynamic to the group.

In 1963, the Chiffons released “He’s So Fine,” which topped the national charts and became their signature song. They followed this success with another Top 10 hit, “One Fine Day,” also in 1963. Over the years, the group experienced personnel changes, with Judy Craig remaining the only original member in the later incarnations.

Early Formation and First Charting Single

The origins of the Chiffons trace back to the Bronx, New York, in 1960. The group was initially composed of Judy Craig, Patricia Bennett, and Barbara Lee. They were discovered by Ronald Mack, who became their manager and chief songwriter. Mack’s influence was significant; he suggested they add Sylvia Peterson to the lineup, who had previously sung with Little Jimmy and The Tops.

Their first charting single, “Tonight’s The Night,” was released on the Big Deal label in 1960, peaking at #76 on the Billboard Hot 100. Their second charting single, “When the Boy’s Happy (The Girl’s Happy Too),” written by Barry-Greenwich, reached the lower ranks of the Hot 100.

Breakthrough Success

The Chiffons’ breakthrough came with the release of their first LP, “He’s So Fine,” in late 1962. The title track, written by Mack, became a massive hit, reaching #1 on both the pop and R&B singles charts and peaking at #16 on the UK singles chart. The song’s catchy “doo-lang, doo-lang, doo-lang” background vocal became instantly recognizable.

Under the alternate moniker The Four Pennies, they released a few tracks with Sylvia on lead vocals. However, they reverted to the Chiffons after “He’s So Fine” achieved chart success. Their follow-up single, “One Fine Day,” penned by Goffin and King, reached #5 on the pop charts and #6 on the R&B singles chart in the summer of 1963, solidifying their place in pop music history.

Continuing the Journey

The Chiffons recorded other memorable songs, including “I Have A Boyfriend” (#36 pop, #6 R&B) and their last Top Ten pop hit, “Sweet Talkin’ Guy” (#10). Despite financial difficulties and personnel changes, the group continued to tour. Judy Craig left the group for a more stable career, and Sylvia Peterson eventually departed, leaving the group as a trio.

In 1970, George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” led to a lawsuit from the Chiffons and their publisher due to its similarities to “He’s So Fine.” The court ruled that Harrison had unintentionally plagiarized the song and ordered him to pay damages.

In the 1980s, Sylvia Peterson returned to the group briefly before leaving again in the 1990s. Barbara Lee suffered a fatal heart attack in 1992. Judy Craig rejoined the group in the 1990s and has remained active, making her the only original member still performing. The Chiffons’ enduring legacy continues to resonate with fans old and new, celebrating their contributions to the golden era of girl groups.

Interesting Facts About the Chiffons

  • The Chiffons were formed in 1960 at James Monroe High School in the Bronx, New York.
  • Ronald Mack discovered the group and became their manager and chief songwriter.
  • Sylvia Peterson joined the group later, adding a new dimension to their sound.
  • Their first charting single was “Tonight’s The Night,” which peaked at #76 on the Billboard Hot 100.
  • The song’s background vocal “doo-lang, doo-lang, doo-lang” became iconic.
  • Their other hits include “I Have A Boyfriend” and “Sweet Talkin’ Guy.”
  • Judy Craig left the group to pursue a more stable career, but later rejoined.
  • Sylvia Peterson left the group and returned briefly in the 1980s.
  • Barbara Lee passed away in 1992 due to a heart attack.
  • Judy Craig is the only original member still active with the group.
  • The Chiffons have undergone several reincarnations with newer members.
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