The 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees have been announced and the honorees include, finally (Let me hear you say Hallelujah! - I've been saying it for days), Darlene Love.
Love's singing career began in the late 1950's when, as a high school sophomore, she was a choral singer at the St. Paul Baptist Church in Los Angeles. One of her friends from church, Delores Ferguson, asked Darlene to sing at her wedding. The bridal party at the wedding included singers from the girl group the Blossoms. To make a very long story short, Darlene joined the group, who became backup singers for quite a few hits of the day (Monster Mash by Bobby 'Boris' Pickett, Goodbye Cruel World by James Darren, Johnny Rivers' On The Poor Side of Town and others). She came to the attention of Phil Spector, who was looking for a lead singer to record with the Crystals on what was to become a smash hit - He's A Rebel. She and the Blossoms sang on that record and it shot to Number One in 1962. Darlene and the Blossoms also recorded He's Sure the Boy I Love, which was credited to the Crystals
Love became a regular on Spector's label, Philles, singing on her own hits (Wait 'Till My Bobby Gets Home, Today I Met the Boy I'm Going to Marry, Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) and more), and continuing to sing with the Blossoms and Bobb B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans on many other hit records as well as the classic Phil Spector Christmas album. The Blossoms were regulars on TV's Shindig every week. They toured with Elvis Presley and joined him onstage for his iconic 1968 Comeback Special. In the 70's, Love sang backup for Dionne Warwick and Aretha Franklin and, later on, Cher.
In the 80's Darlene was cast in the film Lethal Weapon and ended up being a recurring character as Danny Glover's wife in all four Lethal Weapon films. She was invited by U2 to sing on their 1987 remake of her hit song, Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). She starred in the Broadway musical Leader of the Pack, based on the amazing work of the late (and much missed) Ellie Greenwich. In 1993, Darlene performed in a popular long running show based on her own career, Portrait of A Singer, at New York's Bottom Line.
I had the pleasure of speaking to Darlene by phone a few days ago about the long overdue Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. She had actually been on the ballot about ten years ago but for some reason was removed and wasn't on again until two years ago. What was her first reaction to the news? "When I first heard it I was shocked and then I started screaming...is this really for real?....I started screaming and hollering and bouncing off the walls, I have not been able to sleep for the last two or three days," an ebullient Darlene told me.
"It's a dream come true. That's why I tell people don't give up on your dreams no matter how long it takes...This has been one of my biggest dreams - it means a validation from my peers. Because I know the people who are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are the people who vote...It just makes me happy to know that my peers appreciate my contribute to the industry."
This has been a very long crusade, especially by Little Steven Van Zandt, who was instrumental in getting her back into the limelight years ago and continues to be a friend and supporter. Van Zandt has made it his personal mission to make sure that multi-talented and beloved artists like Darlene retain their rightful place in musical history where they belong.
What are Darlene's plans for the near future besides a lovely awards dinner in March? "We have finished a DVD that was one of my live shows I did last year. We're working on my biography, on the movie about my life. We should start production around March-April-May...To be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and do a movie too, I don't know what else can happen after that!" she laughed. The movie is based on her 1998 autobiography, My Name is Love: The Darlene Love Story. The three main characters, which they are still in the process of casting, are Phil Spector, Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers, and Darlene herself. Love is one of the executive producers of the project. Though she loves acting, she'll sit this one out and remain on the production side. "I'm still interested in doing movies, just waiting for the right one to come along."
Darlene's annual Christmas visit to the David Letterman Show (a grand tradition since 1986) will take place later this week, airing on the 23rd. She will take to the stage tonight, Sunday December 19, for her annual Christmas concert at B. B. King's in New York City (tickets here unless they're all sold out which is highly likely) and also on Dec. 22 she'll do the Christmas concert at the Bergen Performing Arts Center (tickets here). Don't miss it if you want a massive dose of the Christmas Spirit!
What would be Darlene's advice to a young girl today who aspires to be a singer? She acknowledged that it was a little harder today than it had been when she was starting out. "You have to I think do it all, be a singer - a dancer - an actor - you have to be able to do it all and do it all good, the laws of our business demand that now....The main thing is to hold onto your dream. If you think you're a great singer, don't let nobody tell you you're not a great singer."
"Hold onto your dream," Darlene advised. "I held onto my dream all these years - it's been forty years and here I am now being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, so it pays...if you hang in there, eventually it'll come to pass...Even if nobody believes in you, you have to believe in yourself."