Fame at last for rock'n'roll's unsung star

Darlene Love was the unacknowledged voice of many Sixties pop hits. Now that's all about to change

Today, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the US museum that honours the most influential figures in the music industry, will welcome a clutch of new musicians into its fold with a glittering induction ceremony in New York.

Among this year's chosen ones are Alice Cooper, Neil Diamond, Dr John and Tom Waits, musicians whose names are already woven into the pop canon. There is a fifth singer on the list who is perhaps less familiar, despite having recorded a string of hit records and, in her heyday, performed with every pop icon in the book. She is Darlene Love and, even if you don't know her name, you will almost certainly have heard her voice.

Love began singing in her minister father's church in East LA. When she was 16, following a performance at a friend's wedding, the two bridesmaids asked her if they wanted to join their group. Thus, Darlene Love & the Blossoms were born, and swiftly made their name singing backing vocals for the likes of Sam Cooke and Bobby Darin.

In 1962, they were introduced to the producer Phil Spector, who asked Love to sing lead vocals on the Gene Pitney-penned "He's a Rebel". This was during the famous "Wall of Sound" era when Spector, a man known for his eccentric habits and short fuse, was at the height of his powers. So Love decided not to question his decision to attribute "He's a Rebel" to The Crystals, a New York group signed to his label, even though the voice on the record was hers. Love received a flat fee of $3,000 for her services. Meanwhile, the song went to No 1 and sold more than three million copies.

Spector assured Love that the next single she sang on, "He's Sure the Boy I Love", would have her name on it, though in the event The Crystals were credited again, and it was another big hit for its producer. Over the next few years, Love recorded scores of songs for Spector, only a handful of which were attributed to her, among them "Winter Wonderland" and "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)".

In the late Sixties, Love tried to establish a solo career, though it was an uphill struggle since record buyers had no idea who she was. To make ends meet, she took backing vocalist jobs for Tom Jones, The Righteous Brothers, Aretha Franklin and Sonny & Cher. She appeared in Elvis Presley's '68 Comeback Special and went on the road with Dionne Warwick for nearly a decade. In 1981, she came back to Los Angeles so she could take care of her children, and found that the studio work had dried up. By now a single mother, she took a job as a Beverly Hills maid, cleaning the homes of the rich and well heeled.

Three years later, while cleaning someone else's bathroom, Love heard one of her songs on the radio. "I looked in the mirror and said, 'This is not what the Lord wants me to do'," she wrote in her 1998 autobiography. She went home and called Dionne Warwick, who agreed to loan her some money until she found her musical feet.

A series of roles in Broadway musicals enabled Love to return to singing, and led to acting parts in films including the Lethal Weapon series. Since then, Love has released assorted solo albums and compilations, toured up and down the US and even duetted with Bruce Springsteen. In 1993, she finally launched a lawsuit against Spector over unpaid royalties and, after several years of legal wrangling, won her case.

Now, 52 years after her career began, the music industry is at last honouring Love, an unsung hero who helped create the sound of the Sixties and was then cast aside by those whose coffers she so gracefully plumped. Today will doubtless be a glorious day for this "one-woman wall of sound", as Springsteen called her. It's just a shame it took so long.

Arts and Entertainment
Tate Modern chief Chris Dercon, who will be leaving to run a Berlin theatre company
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Tasos: 'I rarely refuse an offer to be photographed'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Girls on the verge of a nervous breakdown: Florence Pugh and Maisie Williams star in 'The Falling'
Film
Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

    Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

    Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
    General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

    All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

    The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
    How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

    How Etsy became a crafty little earner

    The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
    Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

    King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

    Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
    Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

    Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

    The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
    Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

    Don't fear the artichoke

    Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
    11 best men's socks

    11 best men's socks

    Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
    Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

    Paul Scholes column

    Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
    Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
    London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

    Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

    Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
    Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

    Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

    Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
    Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

    Khorasan is back in Syria

    America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
    General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

    On the campaign trail with Ukip

    Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
    Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

    Expect a rush on men's tights

    Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions
    Peter Kay's Car Share: BBC show is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade

    In the driving seat: Peter Kay

    Car Share is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade. The programme's co-creator Paul Coleman reveals the challenges of getting the show on the road