|Darlene Love @ Joe's Pub in May, via my iPhone|
Ms Love has had a great resurgence and re-recognition, and has become of interest to a new generation. I don't know if she has new representation, but she's all over the place since her induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Performances under Studio 54 this season, Joe's Pub, BB King's Christmas Queen once more. She privately performed at NBC studios in NYC for friend Sue Simmons' retirement, and for the Ronald McDonald House. She is as beloved as she is omnipresent, not only on David Letterman every holiday season, but interviewed locally, nationally, internationally as of late. Might make another diva of the '60s girl-group era a little envious, huh?
|Leery La La|
You know how I always have stories to tell you about things that are the truth and things that really happen in my life, LaLa begins. I will comment as we go along, otherwise offering La La's language verbatim on this matter.
The other day I received a personal letter from a fan who was venting ...about how Darlene Love has often incorrectly claimed credit for having performed lead vocals on "Da Doo Ron Ron." This letter was very heavy to me because the writer seemed very upset. I hope that after reading this message, you will all be calm and forgiving. [I was wondering if the letter was penned by, say, La La's sister.]
When I first came back from Europe where I had been living for 14 years, I got a call from the lead singer of a very famous girl group [Ronnie Spector, may I assume?], who told me "La, Darlene has been taking credit as if she did the original version of "Da Doo Ron Ron" and she has a lot of promoters booking her based on this assumption." [Ok, let me first say it is not true that Ms Love gets bookings based solely on the fact that she'll sing "Da Doo Ron Ron."] I listened to this but didn't respond as it was difficult for me to believe that someone could lie and be so mean. [Darl?] I had loved Darlene and her voice so much from the time that I was a child being flown out to California to put down the track. [Ms Love is only 6 years older than our Ms Brooks.] But, in time, I witnessed the lie myself. [Oh-oh!]
In 1999 or 2000, I was being managed by Debbie and Bruce, a husband/wife couple who took me to "The New York Heroes Awards," which was an event honoring people including Mary J. Blige, Tony Bennett, Celia Cruz and others. When we got to the event, the first person I saw near the door was Darlene. I gave her a big hug and asked how she was doing. She said, "I'm fine but I'll be better if I can get a part in another 'Lethal Weapon' movie." [Snark much?] We both laughed and then walked inside. I saw Mary J. Blige sitting at a table with her sister. I had wanted to meet her and now I had that opportunity. The event hadn't started yet so I was able to talk with her for about 20 minutes. I told her who I was and what group I was with and what songs I had sung. Mary was overwhelmed [!] and said that people like me had paved the way for those who came after including herself.
I then went upstairs to my seat, as the proceedings were getting ready to begin. I was sitting between my managers at the table. A gentleman came out on stage introducing Darlene as the Master of Ceremonies. I was aware of this but I had no idea as to what would happen after she came out. He introduced her as if she were a member of The Crystals. Also I noticed in the program book that she was listed as having sung "Da Doo Ron Ron." When Darlene came out, she had a "ha ha" demeanor about herself [Ooo, girl!], as if she knew that I was there in the audience but there was nothing I could do to refute what was being claimed. I was outraged. [Get where this is going, huh?]
I was now in tears and saying to my managers, "I'm going to go on stage and tell the truth." [Oh, that's such a '60s girl-group line!] I was going to shut it down. But I was sitting between both of them and they had me pinned in. [Helpless! They must have been big people.] Debbie knew that I was really upset and said that she would talk to this guy by the side of the stage. She went downstairs and I could see her speaking with this guy. Naturally, she was upset and I could see her hands flying with emotion. Then she came back upstairs. Bruce asked what had happened. I was too upset to say anything. She said that show producer acknowledged that they all knew that La La Brooks was there and knew that she did that song, but that "this is politics. We know La La's there. We'll send her an apology letter later."
At this point, Debbie went to the ladies room so I was not pinned in and was able to get out of my seat. [Phew!] I began going down the stairs, heading toward the stage. I bent down to speak with Tony Visconti who was one of the organizers of the event. I told him about what was happening and he said that "I know, La La This is f'd (sic) up." I said, "Tony, if you don't rectify this, I'm going on stage." He was very concerned about this as he knew I was ready to go up there. He showed me the guy I should go to behind the stage. I went up to him, grabbed his arm and with tears in my eyes, I said, "How dare you! You're giving out these Heroes awards to current artists; yet at the same time, you're snuffing out another hero from the past-- who did this song; you're lying and playing politics by falsely giving someone else credit!"
I now saw Mary J. Blige coming down to go to the ladies room. She saw that I was upset and asked what happened. So I explained the story to her. "Mary, this business will try to screw you over. Don't let this happen to you." She responded, "Girl, don't let them steal your joy." Her manager who was accompanying her said, "La La Brooks, we know that you did that song. We know you're the real deal!" [I.e., Darlene is NOT.] In the meantime, I saw various show people speaking on their walkie-talkies, trying to solve the problem [it was that important!], as they knew I was determined to walk on stage. Everyone was there--people from Billboard and Cashbox magazines, etc.
Suddenly I saw this woman running down toward me saying "La La, don't worry, we're going to rectify it and get you on stage." So she walked me to the back of the room. As we were walking back there, I ran into some famous basketball players who were there and had heard about this mess-up. They were yelling, "Don't worry, sis. This stuff is wrong. Don't worry, they're gonna take care of it." Then I heard Darlene on stage introducing me, telling the audience who I was and what I did. And then she said, "Ladies and Gentlemen......La La Brooks." As I approached the stage, I received an overwhelming standing ovation, which shocked me. But these people hadn't seen me in 14 years. And Cashbox and Billboard had always known that I had done that song.
My hands were shaking as I reached the podium so I made sure that I placed them firmly upon it. Darlene was standing toward my right. I calmly spoke into the mike: [Are you ready, bitches? A star is reborn.]
"Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen. I was an original member of The Crystals. My name is La La Brooks. The other original members were Barbara Alson [sic], Dee Dee Kenniebrew, Mary Thomas and Patsy Wright. I did "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "Then He Kissed Me" when I was 15 years old with Phil Spector." The audience applauded. I continued, "Ladies and Gentlemen. Darlene Love was never a Crystal. But she was always Darlene Love." [Woowee, child!] I gave Darlene a smile and a hug and went offstage. [Bitch!] I received another standing ovation. [Bitch!]
I tell you this story to say how in this business there are people who will try to steal your glory. When fans write to me about things which are wrong, they are people who have done their research and know the truth and would like to tell it but don't have a platform to do so. And even Paul Shafer [Uh-oh! Dragging him in, too! Shafer will be on the phone with DL tomorrow, whining, "I never said that! I swear!"], who I love so much, has said many times that he doesn't understand why Darlene continues to try to take credit for a song she didn't do. If he doesn't know about music and who did what then who does? Paul is one of Phil Spector's good friends. [That's a recommendation these days?] So to all of you fans who've written letters to me about this, I thank you for having done your research on everything. So don't worry or be angry. Because when we have our big fan barbeque next year, I want you to come with your party faces on (lol). So don't worry, be happy........Love to all, La La
La La and Barbara Alston were the original lead vocalists for The Crystals. Phil Spector brought in Darlene Love to get more of the sound he wanted from his fronting diva, starting with "He's a Rebel." Oddly timed and bitter, I was surprised by this post. La La has posed with Darlene, both smiling. I assumed they were friendly. But now the dark side. What Ever Happened to La La Brooks? I was shocked to read such blatant resentment today. It's all playing out on Facebook, people, in the future of today. Is Darlene to Madonna as La La is to Gaga? Or vice versa?
La La and Love: you decide! Below, dueling River Deeps.
Aw, it's all so sad. Right, Ms D?