The Love of Music

Vocalist Darlene Love to perform at the Grand Theatre Wednesday

By Jim Carroll/Grand Theatre Published:

Vocalist Darlene Love, whose dynamic voice has been heard on countless hits, will perform at the Grand Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

A 2011 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Love was part of producer Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” in the early 1960s, singing on hits such as “He’s a Rebel” and “Da Doo Ron Ron,” as well as the holiday classic “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”.

As a member of The Blossoms, Love provided background vocals for artists ranging from Marvin Gaye and Dionne Warwick to Elvis Presley and The Righteous Brothers.

As with many singers from the 1960s, her musical roots are grounded in the church. She is a minister’s daughter, and her first musical experience was in a church choir.

“(Singing in the choir) was a big influence on my life,” Love said in a recent phone interview. “I call it my learning ground. Singing in the choir, I learned harmony.”

In the late 1950s, she joined the singing group The Blossoms. The group kept a busy schedule in the studio, backing up performers such as James Darren, who had a hit with “Goodbye, Cruel World.”

In 1962, The Blossoms were given the opportunity to record a song for Phil Spector, “He’s a Rebel.” It had already been recorded by singer Vicki Carr, but not yet released, and Spector was anxious to get his version out to the public.

“He’s a Rebel” was a No. 1 hit. Ironically, though, the record was credited to another group, The Crystals. Spector had decided that the record would be more marketable as a Crystals record, since that group had already had a couple of hits.

Did Darlene know it was going to be a No. 1 record?

“No, I didn’t. It wasn’t my kind of song. But what did I know? I was 18,” she said with a chuckle.

While The Blossoms were denied the credit for the song, “He’s a Rebel” paved the way for The Blossoms to sign with Spector’s record label.

Other hits followed, recorded by The Blossoms as the featured group, such as “He’s Sure the Boy I Love” and “Wait ‘Til My Bobby Comes Home,” as well as a contemporary take on the Disney song “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.”

By the mid ’60s, The Blossoms had moved into television, appearing as the regular backup singing group on the rock and roll show “Shindig.”

By the early 1970s, Love was branching out to a solo career. She began an enduring partnership with Dionne Warwick, providing backing vocals in the studio and on the road.

“I worked with her for over 10 years,” she said. “We ended up being great friends.”

Love took a break from show business for a while, but by the early 1980s, she decided that she needed to get back to performing.

She began performing in clubs in the Los Angeles area and recorded her first solo album, “Paint Another Picture,” in 1988.

Love also has reached a wide audience through her annual appearances on “Late Night with David Letterman.” For the past 27 years, during the holiday season, she has entertained Letterman’s audiences with “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” a song that appeared originally on a Phil Spector Christmas album.

Recent years have seen her star shine even brighter. In 2011, she was recognized for her
remarkable career by being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“I wasn’t sure that was going to happen,” she said. “I have to thank people like Bruce Springsteen, Steve Van Zandt and Elton John for pulling for me. It was a wonderful surprise.”

Meanwhile, the Oprah Winfrey Network is currently filming the biographical movie “My Name is Love: The Darlene Love Story,” starring Toni Braxton. Love is a co-producer.

TICKET INFO

Tickets are priced at are $40, $55 and $65 and may be purchased online at the Grand Theatre Web site, http://www.grandtheatrefrankfort.org, or by visiting the ticket office, 312 W. Main St., weekdays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. The phone number is 502-352-7469. Season ticket holders who retain tickets to the canceled Popovich Pet Theatre show should use those tickets for admission to the Darlene Love concert.

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