ANNETTE KLEINBARD (aka Carol Connors)
Born 13 November 1940, New Brunswick, New Jersey
In his biography of Phil Spector ("He's a Rebel", 1989), Mark Ribowsky describes Annette Kleinbard as "a shy, cherubic brunette, tiny as a buttercup". Early in 1958, she met Phil Spector, who was dating her girlfriend Donna Kass at that time. Phil was more than interested in Annette's soprano singing voice. He asked her to sing on a session (on May 20, 1958) that he had prepared, at Gold Star Studio in Los Angeles. So much time was spent on a song called "Don't You Worry My Little Pet", that there was no studio time left for any other songs. The as-yet unnamed group consisted of Spector, Kleinbard, Marshall Leib (often misspelled as Lieb ; he died in March 2002) and Harvey Goldstein. The master was sold to Lou Bedell of Dore Records, but it still needed a B-side. By the time "To Know Him Is To Love Him" was recorded (with Sandy Nelson on drums), the group had decided on a name, The Teddy Bears, and lost a member, Harvey Goldstein. Annette's lead was remarkable, a little girl hurting with real pain. "Don't You Worry My Little Pet" was released as the A-side, but got preciously little airplay. Instead, deejays started playing the other side. The week of September 22, 1958, "To Know Him Is To Love Him" hit the Billboard chart at # 88. It took ten weeks to rise to number one. The Teddy Bears performed on American Bandstand and on the Perry Como Show. They had further releases on Imperial in 1959. Both sides of "Oh Why"/"I Don't Need You Anymore" charted, but peaked no higher than # 91 and # 98 respectively. The group disbanded at the end of 1959, crippled by internal strife and also as a result of a serious car accident : in early September 1959, Annette lost control of her MG convertible, tumbled down a mountainside and into a ditch. She was pulled from the wreckage. Her face was ravaged, her nose almost completely sheared off. For weeks she lay in a bed at the UCLA Medical Center as doctors reconstructed her features. She required four operations. When she was well enough to receive guests, Phil Spector was not among the bedside visitors. "Too bad she didn't die", was his comment.
In the sixties, Annette returned to the music scene as a songwriter, now calling herself Carol Connors. She had come to hate the name Annette because of Annette Funicello. She co-wrote "Hey Little Cobra" by the Rip Chords (a # 4 hit in early 1964), with her brother Marshall Kleinbard (then 13 years old). But as Carol Connors she did write many hot rod songs, some of which were used in beach movies. She really hit the big time in July 1977, when the theme from the first "Rocky" film, "Gonna Fly Now" went all the way to # 1 in the version by Bill Conti, who co-wrote the song. Annette wrote the lyrics ; the released version contained only 30 words. Her third big hit came in 1979, when she co-wrote "With You I'm Born Again" for Billy Preston and Syreeta (# 4).
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