Mike Coppola, Getty Images Singer Darlene Love had a heart attack over the…
- Posted on Mar 14th 2011 5:30PM by David Chiu
It has been a long time coming for Love, who is most famous for the records she made in the '60s with producer Phil Spector such as 'He's a Rebel,' 'He's Sure the Boy I Love' and 'Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).' In addition, she sang backup for artists such as Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin and Cher. After a 50-year-plus career, Love will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Monday with Tom Waits, Neil Diamond, Dr. John and Alice Cooper at New York's Waldorf-Astoria.
She describes the honor as being her Emmy and Grammy all wrapped up into one. "The industry knew about me, but more people outside of the industry didn't know me as well as the inside industry," she says. "That's where most of my life was -- helping others. So, I made a big circle of all the people in the industry that I worked for the last 50 years. It's a blessing."
Love's career goes back to the late '50s when she was the singer for the Blossoms. It was through her association with producer Lester Sill that she got to know his partner Phil Spector, who at the time was looking for a singer to record 'He's a Rebel.' "Lester told Phil, 'I know somebody who has a wonderful voice. You ought to meet her,'" she says. "We met and Phil taught me the song within a few days and then went into the studio and recorded it. He was in a real hurry to get that record out."
In 1962, "He's a Rebel" became a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, but it was credited to the girl group the Crystals. The song's success surprised Love. "When it got up to No. 1, it was a shock," she says, "because the only people who knew it was me were the people in the session and my close friends and relatives. Everybody else in the world thought it was the original Crystals that recorded it."
To Love, Spector was not like any of the other producers she had worked with before in Los Angeles. "He dressed up in a suit and tie, had sunglasses, and wore those Cuban-heel shoes," she says. "We got to know him and he really knew what he was doing. He was like a ringmaster in the middle of a circus."
Love recorded songs for the Crystals and Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans ('Not Too Young to Get Married') as well as for herself ('(Today I Met) the Boy I'm Gonna Marry'). "Phil could always find a song," says Love, "but he couldn't find anybody else to record it. And then he would say, '[Darlene,] I want you to record the song.' It got to a place where Phil had a No. 1 song with my voice -- now it was time for me to sign a contract. Once I signed the contract with Phil, there was nothing in [the] contract that said, 'We could not use you as another person in another group.' He could put me where he wanted to put me."
While the '60s was a period of success, the late '70s was a difficult time for the singer. At one point, Love took on a cleaning job for a woman in Beverly Hills to make ends meet. "One day, [while] cleaning this lady's house, 'Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)' came on the radio," she reveals. "I just got up and took a look at the mirror and the song just kept playing. The spirit within me says 'This is not what you're supposed to be doing. You have a gift and you have to use it.' Nobody really knew I was having this tough time, not even really my family."
Fortunately, E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt helped Love land some jobs and, along with Bruce Springsteen, convinced her to relocate to New York City. "It was just one little hurdle after the other and I kept jumping over them, until finally [you get to] the place where now you've made a name for yourself ... from working steadily in New York City and on Broadway ... and getting my name out there."
Since then, Love has appeared in the Broadway musicals 'Leader of the Pack' and 'Grease,' the 'Lethal Weapon' movies and 'Another World.' Recently, Love released a live CD/DVD, 'The Concert of Love,' and a compilation, 'The Sound of Love: The Very Best of Darlene Love,' and her life story will be depicted in a new movie that is currently in production. "Hopefully we'll be on our way doing that sometime this spring," she says of that project.
As for her thoughts about being recognized for her work after all these years with this induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Love says, "It's amazing right now because I can really appreciate the work that I've done over the years. I did it because I loved it. Now to be appreciated for it is just overwhelming to me."
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