1928 – 1983
Who was Larry Darnell?
As a teenager he left home to work as a dancer with a burlesque road show, the Brownskin Models, but soon settled in New Orleans, where he worked as a singer in the Dew Drop Inn. In 1949 he was signed up by Fred Mendelsohn for the Regal label in New Jersey. His first two recordings, "I'll Get Along Somehow" and "For You My Love", both hit the R&B charts in November 1949, with "For You My Love", written by Paul Gayten, staying at the # 1 spot for eight weeks.
The follow-ups "I Love My Baby" and Louis Prima's "Oh Babe!" were also hits, and Darnell's powerful and passionate voice contributed to the development of a trend in popular music soon marketed nationwide as rock and roll. However, after Regal collapsed in 1951, his records became less successful. By now known as "Mr. Heart & Soul", he appeared in the 1955 movie Harlem Rock & Roll Revue, and spent the rest of the decade recording for various labels, gradually fading from the scene.
In 1969 he made his final recordings, for the Instant label in New Orleans. Receding from professional activity, he continued to sing in church and at charitable events. In 1979 he was mugged, receiving severe injuries. The doctors operating on him to save his life discovered he had lung cancer, from which he died in 1983.
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