As one of Phil Spector's handpicked early-'60s girl-group singers, Darlene Love sang some lead vocals with the Crystals, Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, and also had hits under her own name.
Darlene Wright started singing in 1958 with an L.A. vocal group called the Blossoms. (Her sister Edna later sang with the Honey Cone, which hit big in 1971 with the Number One "Want Ads.") The Blossoms recorded without success as a foursome for Capitol Records between 1958 and 1960, and then as a trio for Challenge and Okeh. They also did backup singing on the L.A. session circuit, supporting Bobby "Boris" Pickett ("Monster Mash"), James Darren ("Goodbye Cruel World"), Bobby Day ("Rockin' Robin"), and many others.
When Love came to Spector's attention, he had her and the Blossoms sing "He's a Rebel," which went Number One in 1962. The producer had originally intended the Gene Pitney composition for the Crystals, and in fact put their name on the record, though they didn't sing a note. Love also sang lead on "He's Sure the Boy I Love" (Number 11, 1963), also falsely credited to the Crystals, and in the short-lived vocal trio Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, who had a hit with "Zip-a-Dee Doo-Dah" (Number Eight pop, Number Seven R&B, 1963), from the Walt Disney movie Song of the South. All of these recordings were on Spector's Philles label.
Love went on to record six Philles singles under her own name, including "Wait Till My Bobby Gets Home" (Number 26, 1963), "(Today I Met) The Boy I'm Gonna Marry" (Number 39, 1963), and "A Fine Fine Boy" (Number 53, 1963). She also appears on Phil Spector's classic Christmas album. Love continued to sing with the Blossoms throughout the '60s. They were regulars on Shindig and toured with Elvis Presley in the early '70s. Love then sang backup for Dionne Warwick for 10 years, beginning in 1971.
In the '80s the singer branched out into acting, appearing in the Lethal Weapon films and the Broadway show Leader of the Pack. She also recorded two solo albums. Long respected as one of the top vocalists in pop music, Love finally received long-overdue recognition in 1993, when a show based on her career, Portrait of a Singer, opened in January at New York's Bottom Line club. Love performed weekly in the long-running show. In 1996 she participated in the revue 20th-Century Pop with Merry Clayton and Marianne Faithfull. She continues to perform around the country, garnering critical praise for her annual holiday show, Love for the Holidays.
In 1993 Love sued Phil Spector for back royalties; in 1997 a New York Supreme Court jury ruled in her favor but, because of the statute of limitations in New York State, awarded her only $263,500 for royalties going back to 1987. In 1998 the singer published her autobiography, My Name Is Love, and released a gospel album, Unconditional Love.
This biography originally appeared in The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Simon & Schuster, 2001).
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