Now it's Christmas: Darlene Love returns to Letterman

For another year, as she has since 1986, the singer and actor rang in the holiday Friday night with "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home.)" She gets a little help from some friends. "Oh by God," David Letterman says at the end.

Love began singing in church in Hawthorne, hometown also of the Beach Boys. She was inducted this year into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which calls Love "popular music’s greatest session vocalist and backup singer." From her Hall of Fame bio:

Love has been called “the most successful unknown singer in rock and roll history.” Virtually everyone knows her voice, but only a relative few know to whom that magical voice belongs. With her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, that will no longer be the case.

Love sang lead on a string of Phil Spector-produced hits from the early Sixties, including “He’s a Rebel,” “He’s Sure the Boy I Love,” “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah,” “(Today I Met) The Boy I’m Gonna Marry,” “Wait Til My Bobby Gets Home,” “Why Do Lovers Break Each Other’s Hearts?” and the seasonal classic “(Christmas) Baby Please Come Home.” In addition, she sang background vocals on numerous other hits that Spector produced for his Philles label, including the Crystals’ “Da Doo Ron Ron,” the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” and the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.” Love wanted to be the lead vocalist on “River Deep – Mountain High,” and although that assignment went to Tina Turner, she sang backup on the session and has subsequently made the song a highlight of her live performances.

Among rock cognoscenti, Love is best known for “He’s a Rebel,” a song credited to the Crystals that was in actuality sung by Love and her vocal group, the Blossoms....

Love and the Blossoms became first-call A-list session singers, boasting a sessionography that almost defies belief. With the Blossoms, Love has sung with the likes of Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, the Mamas and the Papas, Duane Eddy, Sonny and Cher, Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, Luther Vandross and Dionne Warwick. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Previously on LA Observed:
The backup singers project

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