Who was Love Unlimited?
Love Unlimited was an R&B vocal group formed by Barry White. The all-girl trio (which comprised of White’s future wife Glodean James and her sister Linda James and their cousin Diane Taylor) provided backing vocals for some of White’s records and live performances. On their own, Love Unlimited also achieved some success, via “Walking in the Rain with the One I Love” in 1972. In 1974, the girls scored #1 R&B smash, “I Belong to You” in 1974. Following the death of Diane Taylor, Love Unlimited disbanded in 1985.
Formation as White’s backup singers, and their first taste of success
Love Unlimited started out as a backing group for singer/composer/producer Barry White, on his records and live tours. They also came out as artists in their own right, with a certain measure of success. The group consisted of Glodean James (who would become White’s wife), her sister Linda, and their cousin Diane Taylor.
The girls had no prior singing experience around the time when White hired them, and required them to rehearse for nearly a year. Inspired in his newfound relationship with Glodean James, White wrote “Walkin’ in the Rain with the One I Love.”
Russ Regan, head of MCA Records’ subsidiary label Uni, was asked to produce the record. Released on that label sometime in 1972, “Walkin’ in the Rain with the One I Love” peaked at #14 on the US pop chart (and the same position as well on the UK singles chart), and #6 on the R&B singles chart. It was also the record that featured White in his first recorded vocals.
White’s success as a recording artist, and further collaborations with Love Unlimited
When Regan departed Uni and moved to 20th Century Records, White’s later relationship with the label didn’t go well. Another problem he had with Uni, considering his souring relationship with it, is that his Love Unlimited was still tied to that label.
White was then still working behind the scenes as a songwriter/producer/arranger until some encouragement from a friend led him to reluctantly launch himself as a recording artist. White signed with 20th Century Records, therefore reuniting him with his professional partner Regan who had by then become the label’s president.
When White became a successful singer in his own right, he managed to get Love Unlimited out of Uni and into 20th Century Records. In 1973, they released their first single on the new label “Oh Love, Well We Finally Made It.” Other singles followed: 1973’s “It May Be Winter Outside (But in My Heart It’s Spring)” (#83 pop, #35 R&B) and 1974’s “Under the Influence of Love” (#76 pop, #70 R&B). Both of these singles appeared on the LP Under the Influence of… Love Unlimited, which also became their most successful album ever, peaking at #3 on both pop and R&B albums charts. This feat made Love Unlimited only the second female group whose album reached the top five, after Diana Ross and the Supremes’ Greatest Hits Vol. 3.
In 1974, another Barry White-penned ballad “I Belong to You” appeared on Love Unlimited’s third album In Heat. It topped the R&B singles chart and peaked at #27 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Later career and Diane Taylor’s death
After 20th Century, White and Love Unlimited signed up with his own imprint Unlimited Gold, whose distributor was the major label CBS. There they made minor R&B hits such as “Share A Little Love in Your Heart,” “I Did It for Love,” “High Steppin’ Hip Dressin’ Fella (You Got It Together),” “I’m So Glad That I’m a Woman” and “If You Want Me, Say It,” which was to be their last charting single in 1980.
In 1985, Diane Taylor passed away, and her death ultimately brought the end to Love Unlimited.
In 1988, White and Glodean James split, although they remained legally married. The estranged couple also worked together on White’s 1999 album Staying Power.
During their heyday, White and Love Unlimited had been also backed by a 40-member string section named Love Unlimited Orchestra, which also went on to record singles on their own (including their 1973 hit instrumental “Love’s Theme”).