The “Golden Hits Of The 60s” 

Main MenuConcept Refinement The Author..Wayne JancikGolden Age Of The 50sGolden Age Of The 60s1970s and There After7




(Tommy Boyce, CURTIS LEE)

Dunes 2007

No. 7   August 7, 1961




Curtis Lee (b. Oct. 28, 1941, Yuma, AZ) was a vegetable picker. Blue-eyed and blond, he sounded on his best

days a mite like Bobby Rydell (on other days, he could sound more like a flat Fabian). In 1960, Ray Peterson,

the teen crooner noted for that masterful piece of “death rock,” “Tell Laura I Love Her,” happened to catch

one of Lee’s sets at a Yuma nightspot. Curtis was hot that night, and Peterson liked what he heard enough to

tip off Stan Shulman, his manager and with him owner of the Dunes label. Despite Lee’s poor track record

on the Warrior, Sabrina, and Hot labels, Shulman rushed the kid into the studios to cut “Special Love”; then

a cover on KEN COPELANDS’ “Pledge of Love.”  Like Lee’s earlier sides, both disks nose-dived, as did

another sin­gle, “D in Love.”


In 1961, the production and songwriting team of Leiber & Stoller recommended to Shulman the dial-

twiddling skills of an up-and-coming producer named  Phil Spector. Up to this point in his career, Spector

was known only for being a former member of the TEDDY BEARS.  Phil produced Ray Peterson’s “Corinna,

Corinne” for Dunes, then turned his attention to the hitless Curtis Lee.


Curtis had dashed off some tunes with an L.A. singer/songwriter named Tommy Boyce; the latter, later half

of the successful duo of Boyce & Hart, creators of a numerous Monkees tunes; and sometime Monkee,

himself.  Spector listened to the rough outlines of the song and arranged to record “Pretty Little Angel Eyes”

and some other numbers at the Mira Sound Studios, in the now defunct Hotel America on New York City’s

West 47th Street. Brought in to provide that catchy doo-woppin’ background were the HALOS, a recording

act just an instant away from their own success with “Nag” (#25, 1961).  “We came in and [Spector] gave us

the lyric sheets and told us to do what we felt,” Arthur Cryer of the Halos told Mark Ribowsky, author of He’s

a Rebel.  “We stole all those ‘bomps’ and ‘ha-ha-has’ from the Spaniels and Cleftones.”


”Angel Eyes” was a magnificent piece of rock’n’roll, as was the Spector-produced Lee and Boyce tune,

“Under the Moon of Love” (#46, 1961).  Soon after­ward, Spector and Dunes Records parted company.  Try

as he did with C & W tunes, Del Shannon-like num­bers, and fine material provided by Otis Blackwell and the

team of Gary Geld and Peter Udell, Curtis Lee never again managed to get that “right” sound.


Curtis–last noticed–still lives in Yuma, and reportedly works in the construction business. His Stateside

marginally successful follow-up tune, “Under the Moon of Love,” went to the number one position in the

U.K. when reworked by Showaddywaddy in 1977–more than a decade and a half later.