PopMark Media/Studio Unknown’s Confessions of a Small Working Studio: Darlene Love, Worth the Wait

May 12, 2011 6:42 PM, By Lisa Horan


Pop music in the United States was officially controlled by the boys from across the pond, and Spector’s dominance over the industry abruptly came to an end. Love’s music career had also stalled. Soon, she would find herself on the outside of an industry that she helped to shape for over a decade. And, on top of that, she now found herself alone, with two young children to raise, as her first marriage had crumbled. 

"I remember going from traveling the world to having to clean houses to make ends meet,” recalls Love. “It was a low point in my life, but somehow, some part of me knew I would get past it because I always truly believed I had a gift and I would have the opportunity to use it one day." 

That one day wasn’t coming anytime soon, and she would spend the 1970s in obscurity. “I sang on a few projects, but I was mainly with my family and wasn’t doing anything major at the time.” It looked like her ride had come to an end, but she still believed. Love says there was really one thing that allowed her to get through the disappointments of a seemingly failed music career. “It’s really an easy answer. My father was a minister, all my family was Christian, so I was in church every week, and I know my spiritual upbringing has a lot to do with my staying power,” she says. “Even when I was at the bottom and didn’t know what was going to happen, I had people around me telling me, ‘Your gift will make room for you. No one can take it away.’ I believed it, and that’s the way I decided to look at my life, even though nothing was changing.”


That would be a motto she’d have a lot of time to put into practice. During the next two decades, Love’s career would enjoy a few highlights. She would be featured in the musical Leader of the Pack and sing on the soundtrack of the film Bachelor Party; later, Love was cast as Danny Glover’s wife in the blockbuster Lethal Weapon series. Still, she felt she had so much more to do, and now she was immersed in a nasty and seemingly endless battle with Spector. 

“One positive thing that was happening was that every year, I would appear on David Letterman’s show and perform, 'Christmas, Baby Please Come Home,' a song I had recorded in 1963 with Phil,” says Love. “One year, though, he contacted David and revoked permission for me to perform it and he just kept on going.” Spector, in fact, prevented Love from using any of the songs that she had helped to make famous. A filmmaker had expressed interest in working on a film that would feature several of her songs, but Spector refused to release them and the film couldn’t be made. “It seemed like every step I took, he was right there trying to mess up my plans.” Then all of that changed. Spector was sent to prison for a murder conviction, and soon after the music was cleared for Love’s use. Finally, at nearly 70 years old (her birthday is in July), one of Love’s dreams began to come true. People would finally know who she was.

“I’ve never wanted the press hounding me or to be some mega-superstar,” says Love. “All I’ve really wanted all along is for people to know what I’ve done and what I’m doing.” With a recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this past March (after several nominations and disappointing outcomes), a new DVD called The Concert of Love (which began broadcasting on PBS stations in March) and a movie based on her life story being made, the name “Darlene Love” may just become a household one after all. 

But if you think Love has peaked, think again. She is one “almost-70-year-old” who isn’t even entertaining the idea of slowing down anytime soon. She just wrapped up a rigorous touring production of Fame in Australia, and, she says with all seriousness, “I go to the gym five days a week so I can stay in shape, and one day, I’d like to do another Broadway show!” If Love isn’t a testament that you can do whatever you want to do in life, no one is. To make that a reality, “You’ve got to be ready and you’ve got to be prepared—always!” She should know.

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