She began her career right out of high school with the Blossoms, an all-girl back-up group that sang with some of the greatest music stars of the 50s and 60s, including Ray Charles, Tom Jones and Elvis Presley.
She caught the attention of legendary producer Phil Spector, who hired her to sing lead vocals on "He's A Rebel", "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "He's Sure The Boy I Love". She toured with Dionne Warwick, Sonny and Cher and The Mamas and The Papas. She starred in her own record-breaking, off-Broadway show about her life titled "Portrait Of A Singer".
Today (March, 1999), she regularly headlines in concert appearances and has recorded her first Gospel CD titled "Unconditional Love". In addition to being widely recognized for her role in all four Lethal Weapon movies, she has sung her legendary ballad "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" every Christmas on David Letterman's show for thirteen years.
We're proud to present an interview with a true rock 'n roll legend, Darlene Love.
Q - Darlene, what kind of comments are people making to you at book signings and what age group is coming out for the signings?
A - Well, it's my age group, anywhere from, I'd say 30 to 70. The biggest comment I get about the book is how honest it is and that people can relate to my circumstances going across the line. Anybody could learn and deal with this book from reading it.
Q - It took you how long to write it?
A - Actually, about a year and a half.
Q - How long had you been thinking about it?
A - Oh, I would say about fifteen years.
Q - What took you so long?
A - Well, finding someone to help me write it and also finding a publisher. (laughs)
Q - That's probably the hardest thing.
A - Yes.
Q - Have you heard from any of the people whose names are mentioned in your book, and I'm talking about people like Tom Jones.
A - I haven't heard from Tom Jones. I haven't heard from Dionne Warwick. The only other person I really talked about in the book was Isaac Hayes and he loved it. He really enjoyed it.
Q - Where do you think this singing talent of yours came from? Were you born with it, or is it something you learned?
A - I know it was a gift from God. My father was a preacher and my mother worked in churches all her life. My father had a very deep bass sounding voice and my mother had an in-between soprano voice. Not great singers, but they had great tones to their voices. I think that had a lot to do with it. Also, I really believe my voice was a gift from God. I believe if you take care of it, He will help you take care of it. (laughs)
Q - Luther Vandross told you, "You can sing any style of music. It's all based on an intangible combination of crosswinds. Look at the people who can't sing and sell millions. It's unfortunate, but it happens." That's a rather sad commentary on the music business, isn't it?
A - Yes. It's very, very true. It happens every day. I've been in the business forty years and it's been happening all these forty years.
Q - Does it ever get you down to see a new talent make it?
A - No, it really doesn't bother me anymore. It used to. I can do other things. I can go on to do Broadway. I've done movies. I can sing in nice theaters. So, I have another life other than a recording life.
Q - When you see people like Tom Jones conducting themselves in the manner you write about in the book, does that diminish their talent in your eyes?
A - No. It has nothing to do with Tom Jones. If it wasn't for the women who were throwing themselves at him, it would never happen. So, you have to look at both sides of the coin. He's just really taking advantage of what they're giving him. What he's doing in his personal life doesn't diminish what his talent is, a great singer, a great performer, a great entertainer.
Q - You would almost think that an entertainer didn't have the energy to give a great show on stage, then carry on 'til all hours in the morning off stage.
A - It's almost like, this is one part of my life and this is another. But, you have to realize there are people in the theater who pay money to come and see them, that don't think about him that way. They just admire them for their talent, for their hit songs and they love that. Everybody doesn't look at them the same way.
Q - I still don't understand where all the energy comes from.
A - Let me tell you what they'd do. When we'd get offstage, you work one show and you're through at ten o'clock at night. So, they go back to their room and they have their parties until two or three in the morning. Tom Jones sleeps all day, until an hour or two before it's time to go to work. He goes down to the steam room and gets a massage. By the time eight o'clock gets around, he's ready to start all over again.
Q - At one point, you were cleaning houses in Beverly Hills. Did you ever tell anyone you were a singer and have them not believe you?
A - No. I never told anyone. I didn't really want people to know who I was. So I kept myself in a humble position so I wouldn't be recognized and hoped that no one would recognize me.
Q - You knew Frank Sinatra?
A - Yes, that's right. I worked on the same show he worked on. I actually worked for his daughter Nancy during the time they were campaigning for Hubert Humphrey. We all went on the road with Frank, campaigning all over the country. That is the reason I got to work with him.
Q - What do you remember about Frank Sinatra?
A - His magnetic personality. He was able to bring you in to whatever he was doing. Frank would walk into a room and just mesmerise the room. The room would be filled with electricity. Without doing it, he would take control of the room.
Q - "People who have money and power, I came to realize, are often people who don't have God in their lives".
A - Right.
Q - "They can do anything they want and get away with most of it, because they have to answer only to their checkbooks."
A - That's right
Q - That would probably go a long way in helping to explain the self-destructive tendencies of someone like Elvis.
A - Exactly. I'm so grateful and thankful to God that I have people around me who cared about me.
Q - College campuses are reviving the Swing era. Does that mean everything old is new again?
A - I think so. They don't have anywhere else to go. I notice more and more that in the radio and TV commercials, they're using the music of the 50s and 60s. They can't use the music of the 90s, that's for sure. (laughs) You know, what goes around comes around. There's nothing new under the sun. So, they have to go back to something they know about. Something that works, and our music works.