Thursday, December 23, 2010

The great Darlene Love on Letterman

Posted By on Thu, Dec 23, 2010 at 11:30 AM

Today I’m taking off my political hat, putting on my rock history professor hat, and talking about one of the greatest rock singers ever, Darlene Love. Over the years, I’ve probably made too many of my friends, or former students, suffer through excited monologues about Darlene Love. She sang lead, with her deep, piercing, smooth but powerful vocals, on most of the Crystals’ hits — the cream of the girl group era, produced by Phil Spector — in the early '60s. She had hits of her own around that time, and sang for other Spector group concoctions. Afterward, she formed The Blossoms, which became the absolute go-to, back-up singer “girl group,” on recordings and television, through the rest of the '60s and into the '70s. She took time out to raise a family, then started singing and touring again, even starring on Broadway in the '80s in Leader of the Pack, a celebration of girl group rock — which is where I had the thrill of talking to her for a few minutes after a performance.

Anyhow, to get to the point, Darlene Love, at age 68, has finally — finally! — been elected to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. As a big longtime fan, I’m ecstatic and, although this will sound silly, it feels like a dream come true. I’ve been pushing her in classes, articles, conferences, conversations, and so forth for years — always believing that she’s one of the two or three greatest female singers in rock history. It’s a tradition on Late Night With David Letterman for Love to come on the last show before Christmas and sing her 1963 hit, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” accompanied by a multitude of musicians and back-up singers. Tonight, she’s on Letterman, doing it again, at the end of the show. Here is a great video of Darlene Love singing her signature Christmas song on last year’s show. It’s a great performance; please consider it a cheap, but fulfilling, Christmas gift from one satisfied old rock 'n' roll fan. This is my last blog item of the week, so, long live rock, long live Darlene Love, and Merry Christmas, everybody.

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