Singer Nicolette Larson Dies

December 18 [10:00 EDT] — Singer Nicolette Larson died suddenly Tuesday at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. She had been rushed to the center earlier this week with liver failure, and died Tuesday from a condition known as cerebral edema, a build up of toxic fluids in the brain.

Larson was best known for her 1978 Hit “Lotta Love,” a Neil Young song, and a cover of Jesse Winchester’s “Rumba Girl.” She released a total of six albums but aside from her solo career, she was also one of the busiest — and most popular-session singers in the country rock scene.

Her close circle of friends and musical partners included Young, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Graham Nash, Michael McDonald, Christopher Cross, Steve Goodman, The Dirt Band, Jesse Colin Young and others. David Crosby, familiar with the medical facilities in the area after a life-saving liver transplant, arranged for her emergency medical care. Graham Nash issued a statement expressing his grief.

Larson had
married legendary session drummer Russ Kunkel in 1990 and gave birth to daughter Elsie May, her only child, that same year. Her last album was 1994′s “Sleep Baby Sleep,”‘ a collection of children’s lullabies which included duets with Nash and Ronstadt.

She grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, and spent time in San Francisco and Vancouver, Canada, before settling down in Los Angeles. She was working at the coatcheck counter of a nightclub when the opening act canceled, and she was convinced to do an impromptu duet performance with the club’s soundman. Not long after, Hoyt Axton gave her a job as a back-up singer. She later joined the Commander Cody band and went on to liaisons with Ronstadt and Young.

According to Larson, she first heard “Lotta Love” on an old tape on the floor of Neil Young’s car, told him she liked it, and he told her, “It’s yours.”

Her awards included Performance Magazine 1979 best female vocalist, the Academy of Country Music’s best new vocalist in 1984,
Cashbox Magazine’s best new country vocalist in 1985.

Larson was 45.