Darlene Love is back on the concert circuit again after hip surgery in February. Dubbed “one of the greatest singers of all time” by Rolling Stone magazine, with great musicians like Bette Midler and Paul Shaffer heaping praise on her, the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer returns to Cranston’s Park Theatre for a concert on Saturday, May 19 at 8 p.m.
“I’m happy to be back on tour,” she told me from her home in New York. “I’m off of my cane and moving real good. I have all this energy. I like to do things fast. I just hope the folks in Rhode Island have as much fun as I do. I’m ready to give 150 percent.”
Love has always given 150 percent, from the ’50s when she sang background for Herb Alpert, through the ’60s and into the late ’70s, when she backed up legends like Tom Jones, Elvis and dozens more before finally becoming a headliner in the ’80s.
Love starred in a great documentary, “20 Feet From Stardom,” which told the stories of the trials and tribulations of being a backup singer. (It is available on DVD and well worth your time).
“It took quite a while to get the film made,” she said. “Because I was around and knew most of the singers, I helped the producers get in touch. Fortunately, they had a lot of film on me.”
Filmmakers are currently working on a film about Darlene’s life, with Toni Braxton scheduled to play the superstar, which she says is also taking a long time to get together.
When Love finally came out of the shadows of other singers, she quickly became one of the biggest entertainers, diversifying her talents to major roles in the “Lethal Weapon” movies, appearances on TV talk shows, and three-week gigs at B.B. King’s in Manhattan, where her performances always sold out. She played in “Hairspray” for three years on Broadway and another year in “Grease.”
“But I’m a singer first. It was tough memorizing all those lines and playing opposite Danny [Glover] and Mel [Gibson]. I’m happiest with my band and backup singers. And I’m in control.”
“My fans are now bringing their children and grandchildren to my shows,” she said. “It’s fun to hear the little kids going around singing ‘Leader of the Pack.’”
The show starts at 8 p.m. on Saturday May 19 at the Park, 848 Park Ave., Cranston. There’s free parking across the street in the City Hall parking lot. Tickets are $37, $47, and $57. Call 467-7275 or go online at www.ParkTheatreRI.com.