Happy Birthday Danny Glover! The San Francisco native, George Washington High School grad and San Francisco State College alum turned 67-years-old on July 22. Many know our City-kid-native as the character LAPD Detective Roger Murtaugh in the 1987 action thriller movie, “Lethal Weapon.” The actress who played his wife, Trish Murtagh, was Darlene Love. You have probably heard more from Darlene than you know.
In the 1960s, Darlene was a member of the girls singing group called The Blossoms. She was under contract to music producer Phil Spector, famous for his “wall of sound” style. In addition to singing lead, Spector often had Darlene sing backup on other singers’ recordings. “Shindig” was a musical variety show on ABC from 1964 to 1966. The Blossoms were regulars. Here they are in October of 1964, performing the song, “Dancing in the Street.” This song was actually the signature song of another girl group, Martha and the Vandellas, who released it on the Motown label in July of 1964. In this “Shindig” version, you can clearly hear Darlene’s strong lead vocal:
Figuring out who was singing what was sometimes difficult in the 1960s. Darlene and The Blossoms were recorded as backup singers on such hits as “Johnny Angel” by Shelley Fabares, “The Poor Side of Town” by Johnny Rivers, and “Da Doo Ron Ron” by The Crystals, another girl group managed by Spector. Darlene and The Blossoms actually recorded a number one hit, but never received the credit. Spector wanted to release the song, “He’s a Rebel,” before his competition got it recorded. He had assigned that song to The Crystals, but they were on the East Coast and he could not arrange to have them record it in time. So he recorded Darlene and The Blossoms singing, gave The Crystals credit on the label and in the promotion of the song, and it became The Crystals only U.S. number one hit.
Darlene Love almost quit singing, and at one point, was cleaning houses to support her family. She did return to her singing and added acting. She was inducted in to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. And a documentary film called, “20 Feet From Stardom,” about backup singers including Darlene’s story, is now making its way across the country.
If you have not already, turn up the volume and get up and dance!