A BELOVED VETERAN OF 1960 s “GIRL GROUPS” BRINGS HER HIT CHRISTMAS SHOW BACK TO THE COUNT BASIE CENTER FOR THE ARTS
BY JON DOMENICK
Darlene Love’s home is filled with the trappings one would expect of a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honoree, including photos of the singer with Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen, Cher, and other superstars who sought (and continue to seek) her out to join them on tours and albums. Bette Midler, who counts herself among Love’s biggest fans, inducted the soul pioneer into the Rock Hall in 2011.
“What a voice, what a journey, and what a great, great artist,” Midler said in her induction speech. “No voice drove me crazier than Darlene Love’s.” During the celebration, the two icons performed Love’s hit with the Crystals, “He’s A Rebel.” Love also sang, “He’s a Fine, Fine Boy,” backed by another fan, Springsteen. Said bandleader Paul Shaffer succinctly, “Darlene Love is Rock and Roll!” Born in California and the daughter of a minister, Love began her singing career began in the church choir. In 1962, she was “discovered” by record producer Phil Spector, a founder of the “girl group sound” that was marked by lavish multi-track instrumentation. She also became a highly sought-after session singer, providing backup vocals for hits like “River Deep, Mountain High” by Tina Turner, “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” by The Righteous Brothers, as well as tracks by Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones, and The Beach Boys. Her life as a back-up singer was chronicled in the acclaimed 2013 Oscar-winning film, Twenty Feet from Stardom.
Not coincidentally, Little Steven Van Zant, longtime member of Springsteen’s E Street Band, is also an ardent admirer of Love. And so, a new tradition was born: the annual Little Steven’s Underground Garage Special Holiday Show Starring Miss Darlene Love. Subtitled “Souled Out Christmas,” the show comes to Red Bank’s Count Basie Center for the Arts on December 20. An additional guest will be New Jersey singer/songwriter Pat Guadagno.