One of the interesting things about the history of songs, is discovering what inspired the lyrics and/or melody of the song.
For To Know Him is to Love Him, that inspiration was a tombstone. Phil Spector was nine years old when his father died. His family then moved from New York to Los Angeles. As a teenager he saw a photograph of his father’s tombstone that had the words To Know Him is to Love Him inscribed.
The lyrics were matched to the music of the song “When the Red, Red Robin Goes Bob-Bob-Bobbin’ Along.”
Phil joined with friends and formed a group called The Teddy Bears. The name for the group was taken from the Elvis Presley song, Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear.
Lead singer Annette Kleinbard didn’t really like the song but agreed to sing it for an audition.
Spector was 17 years old and still in high school, albeit it a senior, when the song was recorded. The song was recorded in twenty minutes and two takes.
The song was released on the B side of a single in August 1958, but saw no success. The song was released again on A side of the single, but again saw no traction.
A radio station in Fargo, North Dakota began to play the song with some frequency. Interest started growing in the song. Other radio stations soon began to play the song across the country and the single began to sell.
By December 1, the song had become the #1 song in the nation.
The Teddy Bears disbanded within a very short time.
Spector discovered he did not like performing and went on to become a top producer in the industry.
The Beatles recorded a version of To Know Him is to Love Him, but it was not released until 1994.
Nancy Sinatra, Dolly Parton, Bobby Vinton, Linda Rondstadt, and Emmoylou Harris have all released versions of the song.