Brief career summary on Nicolette Larson
Nicolette Larson was a pop and country songstress, who was famed for her Top 10 hit “Lotta Love,” a Neil Young original. As a session artist, she had also collaborated with Young and also with Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Graham Nash and many others. Despite being signed to Warner Bros Record’ country-and-western division, her 1978 debut album Nicolette instead featured and eclectic mish-mash of country, rock and blues. The album, which spawned the hit single “Lotta Love,” went as high as #15 on the Billboard album charts. However, other subsequent records encountered dismal critical and commercial failure. However, Larson soldiered on by continuing her work as a session musician. She finally had a big country hit with “That’s How You Know When Love’s Right” in 1986. Larson’s final full length is a children’s album Sleep, Baby, Sleep, which she produced as well. She passed away in late 1997.
Early life and singing career
Country, pop and rock singer and guitarist Nicolette Larson was born in Helena, Montana on July 17, 1952. Her father worked for the US Treasury Department. His job required him to move to different places, and relocation was seen as quite normal for the Larson family.
After dropping off from college, she first took a job as a waitress before she pursued music full-time. She moved to San Francisco, California where she got an employment working in a record store, and then to the Golden Gate Country/Bluegrass Festival, which opened opportunities for to showcase her singing. Then she began to perform around Bay Area, and made her professional debut in Vancouver, Canada opening for folk musician Eric Andersen. She was then invited by Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen to sing for their album Tales from the Ozone, and their follow-up LP’s
She moved to Los Angeles, where she began work as a session musician. For the next few years she appeared on works by many artists such as those of her friend Linda Ronstadt, as well as Neil Young, Hoyt Axton, Guy Clark, Jesse Winchester, Emmylou Harris, Jesse Colin Young, John Stewart, the Doobie Brothers, Rodney Crowell, and Graham Nash.
Larson’s biggest hit with “Lotta Love”
Larson launched her solo career in 1978 by signing with Warner Bros.’ country music division. Later that year she issued her first single, her rendition of Young’s “Lotta Love.” It became a big hit, peaking at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #1 on the adult contemporary charts. Though follow-up singles “Rhumba Girl” and “Give a Little” were only minor hits. These three tracks belonged to Larson’s debut album Nicolette, which featured a mish-mash of country, rock and blues. It performed well on the Billboard 200, peaking at #15, and on the Canadian album charts where it went to #1. This was all because of the strength of “Lotta Love.”
Subsequent solo records, and return to session work
Larson’s sophomore LP In the Nick of the Time did well enough, peaking at #47 on the Billboard 200. It yielded a Top 40 pop hit with “Let Me Go, Love” (at #35), which also crossed into the adult contemporary (at #9) and R&B (at #96) singles charts. After that her following releases showed mediocre performance on the charts.
Larson made her last go at the pop circuit with All Dressed Up & No Place to Go in 1982; it stalled at #75 on the Billboard 200. Afterwards, she retired from the mainstream circuit. She soldiered on, continuing her session singing career and collaborating with Ronstadt, Nash, The Doobie Brothers, Tom Johnston, John Stewart, Albert Hammond and Rita Coolidge.
Becoming a country artist
Her laudable performance in the 1983 country-and-western musical Pump Boys and Dinettes earned Larson a recording contract from MCA label. Even though she had yet to score a country hit, the Academy of Country Music already named her as the Best New Female Vocalist, judging solely on her performance.
It was only in 1984 when Larson got to release her first country album …Say When. Despite the great amount of hype it was receiving, it became far from being a commercial success. In 1986 Larson finally broke into the country Top 10 with the single “That’s How You Know When Love’s Right,” her duet with Steve Wariner. It peaked at #9 on the country single chart, which helped its album Rose of My Heart to barely make it to the country Top 40 country album chart.
Larson’s final years
Despite the success of her latest single, Larson chose not to follow it up with another country record, instead returning to pop via her album Shadows of Love (1988). The LP was released on the Italian label CGD Records. She further pursued her acting career, appearing on the TV show Family Reunion, as well as the comedy movie Twins, and another TV production Throb. She continued her music career mostly by touring. In 1997 released her last studio album, the self-producedSleep, Baby, Sleep, which consisted of songs and music for children
Larson passed away in Los Angeles, California on December 16, 1997, from cerebral edema triggered by liver failure. She was 45 years old.