Darlene Love has been belting out hits since her breakthrough single, “He’s a Rebel,” in 1962 with the Crystals. She’s a powerhouse performer who has sung backup with some of the top acts of the 20th century including Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and pop acts the Beach Boys, Sonny and Cher, Tom Jones, Dionne Warwick—well, the list goes on. Love is such a legend in rock and roll she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. And Rolling Stone Magazine has named her one of the greatest singers of all time.
The pop veteran will be performing this Thursday, Sept. 12, at Pepperdine and there are a few seats left.
Growing up in Los Angeles, Love said she spent much time in Malibu, especially in the 1960s with her friend, record producer Lou Adler.
“I did a lot of backup work for him for all his artists on his label at the time,” she said of Adler. Love has made New York her home for the past 35 years and said she was excited to return to Malibu to perform.
It was in New York in the 1980s when Love’s career was reinvigorated. After taking a break to raise her family, Love portrayed herself on Broadway in the Tony Award-nominated jukebox musical “Leader of the Pack.” Along with other Broadway shows, one of Love’s standout performances was as Motormouth Maybelle in “Hairspray.” Then, the influential singer had a breakout performance in 1986 that skyrocketed her popularity again. It was on the “Late Show with David Letterman” where Love revisited her 1963 Phil Spector-produced hit single “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” Her performance of the classic tune was so well received that she came back 28 times to perform it. Now that the Letterman show is off the air, Love has continued the tradition on “The View.”
“I can’t believe it,” she remarked. “It will be five years this year I’ve been [performing] on ‘The View.’”
When asked how her voice has stayed in such great condition over so many years, Love answered, “I’ve got to thank God for that.”
She said growing up as a minister’s daughter and singing with her church choir, there was never enough money to go to doctors “to take care of our throats.”
“Even then, I didn’t realize I was going to be singing all these years after I started so early,” the 78-year-old commented. “I had to teach myself early to take care of my throat.” She said she’s learned through trial and error how to do that by not staying up all night if she has to work the next day, limiting alcohol and speaking softly.
“I have a loud voice,” she remarked. “I laugh loud. I talk loud, but I’ve done a lot of vocal rest that I found out much later was one of the best things you can do as an entertainer. If you’re a singer, go on voice rest, which means no talking. No whispering for at least half of the day. My doctor said, ‘Wow. That’s what I tell all my clients,’” she laughed.
On Thursday, expect to hear most of Love’s golden rock and roll hits.
“They wouldn’t let me off the stage if I didn’t,” she said. She’ll also perform numbers from her latest album. “I’m so grateful and thankful my audience still wants to hear it,” she said.
Love touched upon a few of her career highlights as a singer, Broadway performer and actress (who appeared in four “Lethal Weapon” movies).
“I’ve been blessed to do a lot of the things I’ve always wanted to do, but the invitation to go to the White House and sing for President Clinton stands out, and the last year Barack Obama was in office I got to go to the White House and sing my famous Christmas song and do some gospel singing,” she said. “Those are probably two of my greatest highlights that I never thought I would do. You think you have to be in a really high echelon to sing for the President of the United States. I’m glad I was there.”
Although Love is best remembered for her Christmas song, she chuckled when asked about a ‘Saturday Night Live’ animated parody she did called “Christmastime for the Jews.”
“When they asked me to do that for SNL, I actually fell down laughing. All my Jewish friends love it,” she said.
For her Pepperdine show, Love said she’s excited about using California musicians—a reunion of sorts. “It’s going to be such an honor to be in Malibu.”