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Darlene Love (née Wright; born July 26, 1941 ) is an American popular music singer and actress. She gained prominence in the 1960s for the song "He's a Rebel," a #1 American single in 1962, and was one of the Phil Spector artists who produced a celebrated Christmas album in 1963.
She appears in the documentary film Twenty Feet From Stardom (2013), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
Darlene Wright was born in 1941. She began singing with her local church choir in Hawthorne, California. While still in high school (1959) she was invited to join a little-known girl group called The Blossoms, who in 1962 began working with producer Phil Spector. With her powerful voice she was soon a highly sought-after vocalist, and managed to work with many of the legends of 1950s and 1960s rock and soul, including Sam Cooke, Dionne Warwick, The Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, Tom Jones and Sonny and Cher; Darlene and the Blossoms sang back-up vocals on the Shelley Fabares hit "Johnny Angel", Sharon Marie (Esparza) (a Brian Wilson act), as well as John Phillips' solo album John, Wolfking of L.A., recorded in 1969. They also appeared on Johnny Rivers' hits, including "Poor Side of Town" and Motown covers "Baby I Need Your Loving" and "The Tracks of My Tears". (The Blossoms recorded singles, usually with little success, on Capitol 1957-58 [pre-Darlene Love], Challenge 1961-62, OKeh 1963, Reprise 1966-67, Ode 1967, MGM 1968, Bell 1969-70, and Lion 1972.)
With The Blossoms, Love also sang backing vocals on many of the biggest hits of the 1960s, including Spector's own "Da Doo Ron Ron" (allegedly recorded with her lead, which was later erased by Spector and re-recorded using Crystals' lead Dolores "LaLa" Brooks). Though credited by Spector as singles recorded by The Crystals, "He's A Rebel" and "He's Sure The Boy I Love" actually featured Love singing lead, backed by The Blossoms. "Today I Met The Boy I'm Gonna Marry" was released as a single by Spector, and featured Love's name as the artist. She says that Spector offered $3,000 for her rights to the song. And though he said it was going to be a hit, she took the money. But, in spite of that decision, she said that she has continued to have a career because people have loved hearing her sing her songs. She was also part of a trio called Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans, who recorded a cover version of "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah", an Oscar-winning song from the 1946 Walt Disney film, Song of the South, which got into the Top 10 in 1963. The Blossoms landed a weekly part on Shindig!, one of the top music shows of the era. They were part of the highly acclaimed Elvis Presley's '68 Comeback Special, which aired on NBC.
"Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" is a song by Darlene Love from the 1963 holiday compilation album, A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector. The song was written by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, along with Phil Spector, with the intention of being sung by Ronnie Spector of The Ronettes. According to Love, Ronnie Spector was not able to put as much emotion into the song as needed. Instead, Love was brought into the studio to record the song, which became a big success over time and one of Love's signature tunes.
Into the 1970s Love continued to work as a back-up singer, before taking a break in order to raise a family. In 1973, she recorded vocals as a cheerleader along with Michelle Phillips, for the Cheech & Chong single "Basketball Jones", which peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
Love returned to music in the early 1980s and to an appreciative audience she thought might have long since forgotten her. She had been performing at venues like the Roxy in L.A., and it was a conversation with Steven Van Zandt that greased the wheels for her to come to New York and begin performing there in 1982, at places like The Bottom Line. In addition to singing the songs that made her famous, she has re-explored her gospel roots on several recordings. She also sang "OOO Wee Baby" in the 1980 movie The Idolmaker.
In the mid-1980s she portrayed herself in the Tony Award-nominated jukebox musical Leader of the Pack, which featured the iconic rock and roll songs written by Ellie Greenwich, many of them for the young Love. The showstopping number of that show, "River Deep - Mountain High", had been recorded by Phil Spector with Ike & Tina Turner and had been less than the success they had expected. Leader of the Pack commenced as a revue at the Greenwich Village nightclub the Bottom Line, as did the later show about Love's life, Portrait of a Singer, which never made the move uptown. Portrait included covers of "The Change Is Going to Come" and "Don't Make Me Over", as well as "River Deep, Mountain High" and original music from some of the instrumental writers of early rock and roll, including Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. Love contributed a cover of The Hollywood Argyles song "Alley Oop" to the soundtrack of the 1984 film Bachelor Party.
In 1987, Love sang back-up for U2's cover of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)", while in 1990, Cher invited Love and her sister Edna Wright as her background vocalists for the Heart of Stone tour. She also released a minor single in 1992 with "All Alone on Christmas", written and composed by Steven Van Zandt, which can be found on the Home Alone 2: Lost in New York soundtrack. Love also contributed vocals to the soundtrack of the film Jingle All the Way. In October 2007, Love released the holiday collection It's Christmas, Of Course, featuring her versions of classic yuletide tunes from the 1970s and 1980s.
She continues to do a Christmas show every year in New York City, which is always capped by "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)".
In the late 1980s and 1990s, Love also began an acting career, playing Danny Glover's wife Trish Murtaugh in the four Lethal Weapon movies. Love has performed in a number of Broadway productions. She acted and sang in Grease, in the short-lived musical adaptation of Stephen King's Carrie, and starred as Motormouth Maybelle in Broadway's Hairspray from August 2005 till April 2008. She later reprised the role in The Hollywood Bowl production of the show in 2011.
Love has performed the song "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" every year since 1986 on the last episode before Christmas of Late Night with David Letterman (NBC 1986 - 1992) and the Late Show with David Letterman (CBS 1993 to present). The song is always performed with Paul Shaffer and the show's house band (The World's Most Dangerous Band at NBC, now the CBS Orchestra), with the band being augmented over the years by additional strings and other instruments, as well as a choir. Her most recent Christmas appearance on that show was on Dec. 21, 2012. Letterman has stated that the annual performance is his favorite part of Christmas. Due to the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike, Love was unable to perform on the Letterman show in 2007; a repeat of her 2006 performance was shown instead.
She was a special guest on the December 17, 2005, broadcast of Saturday Night Live, singing "White Christmas" with the SNL band and providing the vocals for a Robert Smigel cartoon, "Christmastime for the Jews". Love was the musical guest on Late Show with David Letterman on May 7, 2007, performing "River Deep-Mountain High". Love performed with Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band in November 2009 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Concert at Madison Square Garden.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Love responding to questions before New York audience.
On December 15, 2010, it was announced that Love had been chosen for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. On March 14, 2011, Love was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with a speech by Bette Midler.