Darlene Love steps into the spotlight for headlining show
January 2, 2018
By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Renowned background singer Darlene Love has encountered her fair share of hurdles, but she doesn’t see them as barriers to success. It’s quite the opposite.
“Hurdles are to get over, not to bar you,” Love said. “Producers are my biggest hurdles. Some don’t realize that Darlene Love is alive and well and puts on a great show.
“It’s not their fault. Darlene Love was behind the scenes for so many years.”
That’s not to say she hasn’t made her mark. This Rock and Roll Hall of Famer starred in the Lethal Weapon series as Danny Glover’s wife, and won an Oscar for the documentary Twenty Feet from Stardom. She appeared on Broadway in Hairspray and Grease. As part of Phil Spector’s wall of sound hit factory, her Billboard hits include “He’s a Rebel,” “The Boy I’m Gonna Marry,” “Wait Until My Bobby Gets Home” and “He’s a Fine, Fine Boy.”
She took a brief break in the 1970s to raise her family, only to return in the early 1980s. Steven Van Zandt persuaded her to move from California to New York to continue her career.
“My response was, ‘And to do what?’” she said with a laugh. “His response was, ‘Listen, if I get you some shows, will you come?’ That was 35 years ago. My career took on a life of its own.”
While she was starring in Leader of the Pack, she met David Letterman’s band leader Paul Shaffer. Impressed with her performance of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” Shaffer invited Letterman to a show. The talk show legend expressed his love of the performer on his series.
“He said on his show that it was one of the greatest Christmas songs he ever heard,” she recalls, adding he crowned her the “Queen of Christmas.”
During the winter, the song is the centerpiece of her tour. When she headlines the Mesa Arts Center on Wednesday, February 7, the tone will change.
“Oh, that’s our Valentine’s Day show,” she said. “We add a few love songs to our Valentine’s Day shows. We do special things during those shows.”
At 76 years old, Love stays active to keep her body and voice in check. She kickboxes at 5 a.m. on days she doesn’t have gigs. She drinks plenty of water and keeps her doctor appointments.
Along with her health, she relishes the friendships she has made over the years. With the Blossoms, Love provided background vocals for some of the 1960s’ biggest hits, like the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” Shelley Fabares’ “Johnny Angel,” Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s “Monster Mash,” Frank Sinatra’s version of “That’s Life” and the Crystals’ “Da Doo Ron Ron.”
“I look back at my career and I cherish the thought of people who helped me along the way,” Love said. “Nobody can make it by themselves. These are superstars, too—Bruce Springsteen, Bette Midler, Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick, Tom Jones and even Nancy Sinatra. I was just their background singer, but I was just as important to them as anyone else.”
Persistence is the key to her success.
“If you work as hard as you can, trying to get to where you’re going, you’ll reach your dreams,” she said.