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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dueling Divas: La La Lashes Out! (At Darlene Love. Again.)

La La, Darlene & Cousin Brucie during happier days
Last summer, I documented the ongoing feud between girl-group divas La La Brooks and Darlene Love.

As the documentary, 20 Feet from Stardom, opens wider in cinemas across the USA, with a real possibility of being Oscar-nominated next year, Darlene Love continues to promote the film on tv talk shows and in the press. This, it seems, has invoked a renewed indignant frenzy from La La.

Fasten your seatbelts, she warned her Facebook fans today, paraphrasing Bette Davis in All About Eve. This is going to be a bumpy ride.

I just went to see the movie "20 Feet from Stardom," a documentary about background singers, which Darlene Love claims to be HER movie, when in fact, it's about and features background singers in general, including Merry Clayton and Lisa Fisher. I should mention that the latter two singers blew me away with their extraordinary talent. [Ahem! -- Buddy B]

Toward the beginning of the film, there is a scene where Darlene Love and the other two members of her group, The Blossoms reunite to sing an impromptu version of "Da Doo Ron Ron." At that point, I knew where things were going.

There is a scene where you see The Crystals performing "He's A Rebel." While this is being shown, Darlene is discussing her drama of how she had been shortchanged to the point where her career really didn't begin until she was 40 years old. She blames The Crystals for being partially responsible for this (which is a lie, by the way). She gives the impression that by that record (and "He's Sure the Boy I Love) having been released under The Crystals' name, she was shortchanged out of a career. If it weren't for The Crystals' name which Phil had substituted for her own name, Darlene's career would not have been launched.

Darlene forgets that she was nowhere in sight at the time. We were an established professional group who had had records released (with Barbara on lead vocals). We had traveled extensively both domestically and internationally. In fact, we first heard Darlene sing as we were traveling on the road to a gig. That's when we heard "He's A Rebel" which was announced as being recorded by The Crystals. We were all in our teens at the time and I was the youngest. We got our manager on the phone to learn what was happening. He said that we'd have to learn the song and do it in our shows as it was released as a Crystals record.

Around the same time, the famous DJ Murray the K announced on the radio that it was not The Crystals who were singing on "He's A Rebel" which added to the confusion. We were angrier than Darlene could ever have been as we were already a professional group and vocally, we did not require a Darlene Love--or anyone else--to make us famous. We already were famous. Darlene was a housewife at home raising children and also cleaning houses for others.

The Crystals had nothing to do with stopping Darlene Love. Why didn't she travel with her group "Bob B. Soxx & The Bluejeans" with whom she had a hit with "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah?" We were on tour and were told that Bob B. Soxx & The Bluejeans would be joining us. I was happy as I thought I would get to see Darlene, whose voice I always liked. Then I saw Bobby Sheen appear with two other girls. I asked him about where Darlene was. He explained that she was married and living at home, raising children, so he had to bring a substitute for her. So that's the group she could have joined in order to launch her career.

Everything you hear from Darlene regarding and against The Crystals is a blatant lie. On some of her radio interviews, she jokes that if it weren't for her, The Crystals would not be working. If that isn't a joke!

Returning the the new movie, Darlene sings "Da Doo Ron Ron" at the beginning of the film and later shows The Crystals lip synching to "He's A Rebel" to suggest that Darlene had been the voice behind all of The Crystals' records, which could cause people who don't know the truth, to think that that The Crystals didn't sing anything on their own.

My manager and myself were able to discuss this with Morgan Neville, the director of the film. He knew who La La Brooks was and that I had recorded "Da Doo Ron Ron." When we explained everything to him, he sadly expressed regret that he had used the footage of Darlene and the reunited Blossoms singing that song. He explained that he had simply asked them to sing anything and Darlene chose "Da Doo Ron Ron." In retrospect, he wished that they would have sung a gospel song instead; it would have been a lot cheaper, considering the money it had cost to license the Phil Spector song.

At the end of the day, I must say that I admire the great background singers and respect them wholeheartedly because they spoke the truth about their lives. If Darlene would one day come forward and also tell the truth and express how she had to ride on my back to gain success, then she would gain my respect.

I would love for you guys to share this post as far and as wide as possible. Quoting from Humphrey Bogart's line in "Casablanca," "OF ALL THE GIN JOINTS IN ALL THE TOWNS IN ALL THE WORLD, SHE WALKS INTO MINE."

Ouch! Fasten your seatbelts indeed, referencing both All About Eve AND Casablanca! Our Ms Brooks signs off on her vitriolic Facebook post with -- get this! -- "Love you all,  La La"   

By the way, La La has a new single out on Norton Records, vinyl 45 rpm. It's a cover of The Rolling Stones' "Play with Fire." Should be fierce.

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