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Published on Jun 22, 2007
Darlene Love, singing at a New Years Eve party, 1981/82. Five friends - myself, Dick Blackburn, Bill Liebowitz, Bob Merlis, Gene Sculatti and Swamp Dogg (that's 5, right?) held New Years parties between 1978/79 and 1985/6, featuring The Rubber City Rebels, Roy Brown, The Blasters, Jo-El Sonnier, Joe King Carrasco, Bull Moose Jackson, Screamin' Jay Hawkins and more. The 1981/82 party was the zenith, held at the then-shuttered Starwood Theater in Hollywood, back-dubbed "PJ's" that night to honor its past as the Trini Lopez place. (The party was called "Panic at PJ's.") Darlene at that time was cleaning houses and appearing in gay baths lipsynching her records. Todd Everett got Billy Cioffi to assemble a band he dubbed the Monte Carlos for the night. It consisted of Billy, Mercy Bermudez and Gloria Jones as background singers, Spyder Mittelman of Chuck Weiss's band, Victor Bisetti (now of Los Lobos) and Jerry Angel (now of the Blasters) as drummers, along with Scott Richardson, Wayne Irvin, Michael Clark, King Leilani and Paul Hertzog. We were pretty sure that this was the first approximation of a Spector sound ever attempted onstage with an original artist. Darlene was apprehensive (she followed Swamp Dogg, and Dino Lee, King Of White Trash) among the revelers in pajamas and other silly garb, and I saw her praying before her entrance. Bill Liebowitz convinced her to sing "Christmas, Baby Please Come Home" for the first time since its recording in 1963, and this is the result. It was a stunning and tear-jerking moment, fortunately captured on tape. The band was so energized they kept playing long after she left. It was a mighty time.