Darlene Love

As a solo artist Darlene Love had only two songs reach the lower rungs of the top forty in the 60's, but her contributions to rock and roll and the entertainment business in general are significant and varied, including her lead vocal on a number one hit.

She was born Darlene Wright in Los Angeles in 1941. She grew up in Texas, where her father was a minister. She returned to Los Angeles and during her high school years there she sang in a choir. Darlene has a marvelous singing voice which was recognized even then, and she was recruited to join a singing group called the Blossoms. This group became known as good backup singers for other artists, and served to put Darlene in touch with some of the notable pop singers of the day. The Blossoms sang backup for artists such as Bobby Day, Bobby Darin, Nino Tempo and April Stevens, and James Darren. Darlene and the Blossoms served as backup singers on the number one hit by Shelley Fabares in 1962, Johnny Angel. Young record producer Phil Spector took notice of them and began working with them on some of his recordings on the West Coast.

Spector had produced records by the Brooklyn group the Crystals during his time in New York, most notably their 1962 hit Uptown. He went to Los Angeles and wanted to record He's A Rebel, a song that had been written by recording artist/songwriter Gene Pitney. Singer Vikki Carr was also preparing to record the same song, and Spector wanted to get his version on the market before Carr. But he faced a logistical problem, as time was running short and the Crystals were in New York. So he brought in the Blossoms, with Darlene Love on lead vocals, to record the song, which was released as being done by the Crystals. It was a smash hit, going to number one that Fall. Darlene Love had sung lead on a number one, but didn't really get much credit for it. The follow-up, also sung by the Blossoms with Darlene on lead but billed to the Crystals, was another success titled He's Sure The Boy I Love. Spector also put Darlene together with Fanita James of the Blossoms and Bobby Sheen to record a song that had been featured in Walt Disney's Oscar winning film from 1947 Song Of The South. The song was an inspired version of Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah, credited to Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, and once again featured Darlene as the lead vocalist on a top ten record. Like all of the Crystals' hit songs, it was released on Spector's Philles label.

Darlene had become a veteran of the group that worked with Spector at Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles, a group that included Ronnie Bennett and the Ronettes, Sonny Bono and his girlfriend Cher, session musicians such as Hal Blaine, Nino Tempo, producer/songwriter/arranger Jack Nitzsche, and other important figures on the West Coast pop music scene. In 1963, Darlene put two records in the top forty that she recorded under her own name: (Today I Met) The Boy I'm Gonna Marry and Wait Til' My Bobby Gets Home. Phil Spector enjoyed Christmas very much and that summer assembled a number of his artists to record some classic Christmas songs. Included were Darlene's White Christmas, Marshmallow World, Winter Wonderland, and Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).

Darlene continued working as a session singer and backup singer and working with the Blossoms throughout the 60's. She was a regular on the popular national television show Shindig!. At one time or another, Darlene sang backup for such diverse artists as Sam Cooke, the Beach Boys, Tom Jones, Aretha Franklin and the Righteous Brothers. She appeared on television in Elvis Presley's '68 Comeback Special in 1968, singing with the Blossoms.

In addition to her considerable talents as a singer, Darlene Love is hard working and tenacious. Her career in show business has never really ended. She recorded an album for Rhino in the 80's and appeared as Trish Murtaugh, the wife of the character played by Danny Glover, in the Lethal Weapon series of movies. She has also acted in stage plays including such musicals as Grease and Leader Of The Pack.

Together with Rob Hoerburger she wrote her 1998 autobiography My Name Is Love: The Darlene Love Story. Darlene has three sons and currently lives in Spring Valley, New York. Each year in late December she appears on The Late Show with David Letterman to sing Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). Her recording of He's A Rebel remains as one of rock's classic number one songs. On March 14, 2011, Darlene Love was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Most Recent Update: March 14, 2011

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Send email to the author, Tom Simon tsimon@tsimon.com.