Darlene Love

Vocalist Darlene Love placed her stamp on rock history in the '60s, when she sang lead on such girl-group hits as "He's a Rebel" and He's Sure the Boy I Love."

Love was born Darlene Wright 61 years ago today in Los Angeles. She began singing professionally in 1958 with a local group known as the Blossoms. Although they had contracts with a number of record companies from 1958 to 1960, the group never had a hit. But its members sang backup on such songs as Bobby "Boris" Pickett's "Monster Mash," James Darren's "Goodbye Cruel World" and Bobby Day's "Rockin' Robin." The Blossoms also sang on the music TV show "Shindig."

The group met producer Phil Spector who advanced its career on his Philles label but often didn't credit the group for its work. Spector had Love and the Blossoms cut the 1962 #1 song "He's a Rebel"

(RealAudio excerpt), but the record was credited to the Crystals, a Spector-fostered group who were originally slated to sing it. Another "Crystals" record on which Love sang lead was the 1963 #11 hit "He's Sure the Boy I Love."

Love was also the lead singer in the short-lived group Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, who had a top-10 hit with 1963's "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" from the Walt Disney movie "Song of the South."

Under her own name, Love released six Philles singles including "Wait Till My Bobby Gets Home," "A Fine Fine Boy" and "(Today I Met) the Boy I'm Gonna Marry" (all from 1963).

One of Love's most enduring recordings can be heard on Spector's legendary A Christmas Gift for You LP. Her cuts on the album included "Winter Wonderland" and "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," which was later recorded by U2 on the 1987 A Very Special Christmas LP for the Special Olympics. Love herself appeared on 1992's A Very Special Christmas 2, singing "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" with Ronnie Spector.

Love and the Blossoms toured with Elvis Presley in the early '70s. She also frequently sang backup for Dionne Warwick. In 1977, Love reunited with Spector for "Lord, if You're a Woman."

In the '80s, Love concentrated on an acting career, including roles in the "Lethal Weapon" movies and the Broadway production "Leader of the Pack." Love performed in the Royal Shakespeare Company's co-production of "Stephen King's Carrie." She also issued two solo albums, including 1990's Paint Another Picture, that didn't sell well.

In 1993, Love's reputation as one of pop's best singers was validated by her long-running show based on her career, "Portrait of a Singer," at New York's Bottom Line.

PGD/ABKCO issued The Best of Darlene Love in 1992. Last year, she issued the LP Unconditional Love on Harmony Records. She has also toured with Cher and acted on TV's "Another World."

Other birthdays: Bobby Hebb, 58; Dobie Gray, 57; Mick Jagger, 56; Roger Taylor (Queen), 50; Gary Cherone (Extreme, Van Halen), 38; Andy Connell (Swing out Sister), 38; Miranda Joyce (Belle Stars), 37; Headliner, born Tim Barnwell, (Arrested Development), 32.