Music World Loses Singer-Star
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 16, /PRNewswire/ -- Nicolette Larson, international
singer and recording artist, died today at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles,
California due to complications of cerebral edema, it was announced this
afternoon by her husband and renowned drummer Russell Kunkel. She was 45
Born in Helena, Montana on July 17, 1952, Ms. Larson was one of six
children belonging to Mr. Robert and Mrs. Josephine Larson. Her father, a
Treasury Department executive, moved the family about every two years of her
early childhood living in such diverse locations as Minneapolis, Birmingham,
Boston, St. Louis, Washington and Portland, Oregon, before settling down in
Kansas City. With every move, Nicolette was exposed to another regional style
of music, which over the years was combined into the unique vocal style which
eventually made her a star.
Upon her high school graduation, Nicolette attended college, majoring in
psychology and sociology. Working as a Kelly Girl and waitress, she boarded a
Greyhound bus at the age of 21 and was bound for California hoping to land a
job in the music business.
Her first job in the industry was a secretary for the Golden State
Bluegrass Festival, but it wasn't long before she was performing as a soloist
and as a background singer with various bands. Her first significant break
came when she was hired as a singer with Hoyt Axton's band and later with
Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen. She was soon on her way to
becoming one of the top background vocalists in the business, recording with
key musical figures as Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Michael McDonald, Neil
Young, Christopher Cross, Steve Goodman, The Dirt Band, Jesse Colin Young, and
the Doobie Brothers.
Within five years of her arrival in California, Nicolette found herself at
the top of the pop charts with ``Lotta Love,'' the Neil Young penned classic.
Her recording of that song remains the definitive version. I got that song
off a tape I found lying on the floor of Neil's car,`` she once said. ''I
popped it in the tape player and commented on what a great song it was. Neil
said, 'You want it? It's yours.'``
``Lotta Love'' propelled Nicolette's career into the musical stratosphere.
Her subsequent hits, both in the United States and abroad, included ``Rumba
Girl,'' ``Fool Me Again,'' ``I Only Want To Be With You,'' ``Let Me Go Love'' (a duet
with Michael McDonald) and ``That's How You Know When Love's Right.'' The
latter song, a duet with Steve Wariner, was a top 10 country single and earned
the pair nominations for ``Duet of the Year'' from both the Academy of Country
Music and the Country Music Association.
Ms. Larson released six critically-acclaimed albums (four for Warner Bros.
and two for MCA) during her career. Her work garnered many awards including
Best New Vocalist by both Cashbox Magazine (1985) and the Academy of Country
Music (1984). She was awarded Performance Magazines Best Female Vocalist in
1979 and a similar honor the following year at the Disc Jockey Music Awards.
She married the music industry's renowned drummer Russell Kunkel in 1990
and they had their first and only child Elsie May the same year. Her last
full record release was also in 1994 for Sony Wonder entitled ``Sleep Baby
Sleep,'' a collection of lullabies and children's songs including duets with
Graham Nash and Linda Ronstadt. She was inspired to record the album by the
birth of her daughter Elsie May, and by watching her responses when she would
sing to her.
Since 1994, Ms. Larson divided her time between a grueling concert
schedule and her home in Los Angeles sharing the stage with The Dirt Band,
Jimmy Buffet, The Beach Boys, Willie Nelson, Bob Newhart to name just a few.
She also had launched her career as an actress appearing in three episodes of
the syndicated comedy, ``Throb,'' and played the role of Rheta Cupp in the
touring company of the long-running musical ``Pump Boys and Dinettes.'' She
also played the part of a nightclub singer in the hit motion picture, ``Twins,''
starring Arnold Schwarzennegger and Danny Devito which also featured her song
``I'd Die For This Dance'' in the motion picture soundtrack cd. She also worked
extensively to reelect President Clinton in the 1996 presidential campaign.
And, she also worked on Neil Young's ``Harvest Moon'' release.
Ms. Larson is survived by her devoted husband Russell Kunkel and their
seven year old daughter Elsie May Larson Kunkel; her grandmother Elsie Hoffman
of Helena Montana; her parents Robert and Josephine Larson of Kansas City,
Missouri; her brothers, Robert Larson of Greenfield, Missouri; Daniel Larson
of Canyon Country, California; Michael Larson of Reno, Nevada; and her sisters
Judith Havey of Kansas City, Missouri; and, Heather Kierszenbaum of Burbank,
California., and twelve nieces and nephews.
Private services will be held for family and friends this Saturday. A
memorial service will take place in January.