The Beach Boys: Why Brian Wilson Wasn't Allowed to Play on This Phil Spector Christmas Song

The Beach Boys: Why Brian Wilson Wasn't Allowed to Play on This Phil Spector Christmas Song

12/19/2021

Phil Spector’s Christmas Album, which was also released under the titles A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector and  A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records, includes classic covers of many famous Christmas songs. Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys was originally supposed to play the piano on one of these songs. During an interview, Wilson explained why Spector didn’t let him play on the final version of the song.

The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson is a big fan of these Phil Spector songs

During an interview with Record Collector, Wilson discussed his feelings about Spector’s music. “One album I really liked was Phil Spector’s Christmas Album especially ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),’” Wilson remarked. “The things that made those Phil Spector records great were the background tracks, with echo and a lot of thickness, a lot of instruments that he used, guitars, pianos, basses, drums and violins.”

Wilson revealed he’s a big fan of many songs by Spector. “I love ‘Be My Baby,’ ‘Then He Kissed Me,’ ‘You Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,’ ‘Walking In The Rain,’ songs like that. ‘River Deep, Mountain High’ also taught me some stuff.” There are musical similarities between some of Spector’s and The Beach Boys’ most famous songs, as they both feature many instruments being played at once.

The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson was removed from The Crystals’ rendition of ‘Santa Claus Is Coming to Town’

Spector produced The Crystals‘ version of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” for his Christmas album. Wilson had the opportunity to play piano on that track. He didn’t exactly nail it. “I went to a few Spector sessions,” Wilson said. “One was for ‘This Could Be The Night.’ Phil called me down to the session because he wanted me to learn something about that. Then I did Pet Sounds.

“I played piano on a song on his Christmas album [sings ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’], that song,” Wilson added. “He had me play a piano but I couldn’t keep the rhythm right so he had to take me off the piano. I couldn’t hack it.”

The way the world reacted to ‘Phil Spector’s Christmas Album’

Regardless of who played piano on The Crystals’ “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” it appeared on a popular album . The song did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. Despite this, Phil Spector’s Christmas Album hit No. 12 on the Billboard 200.

According to The Official Charts Company, The Crystals’ version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” did not chart in the United Kingdom either. Despite this, different versions of Phil Spector’s Christmas Album charted at different times. The Official Charts Company reports the most popular edition of the record was the 1987 rerelease, which charted at No. 69 and stayed on the chart for six weeks. Wilson didn’t perform on Phil Spector’s Christmas Album but that didn’t stop the album from becoming a holiday classic.

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