A lotta love from the '70s reunites for Nicolette Larson

REVIEW: All-star tribute to the late singer proves touching and memorable.

February 23, 1998

It's Gonna Take a Lotta Love: A Tribute to Nicolette Larson

  • Who: Crosby, Stills & Nash; Carole King; Linda Ronstadt; Bonnie Raitt; Jackson Browne; Joe Walsh; Dan Fogelberg; Emmylou Harris; Little Feat; The Section
  • Where: Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica
  • When: Friday night

It's hard to imagine so many good intentions in one place. Yet, there they were at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on Friday night as a host of Los Angeles' musical powerhouses turned out to pay homage to the late Nicolette Larson — best known for her Neil Young-penned hit "Lotta Love," but best loved for her backup singing.

While the 3 1/2-hour show (benefiting cancer research at the University of California, Los Angeles),the first of a two-night stand, kept away from self-promotion and focused on Larson's legacy, its strength was definitely in the impressive reunion of L.A. music's '70s heyday. There were performances, many of them strong, from Crosby, Stills & Nash; Linda Ronstadt; Carole King; Bonnie Raitt; Little Feat; Jackson Browne; Joe Walsh; Dan Fogelberg; and Emmylou Harris. (Jimmy Buffett was added to Saturday night's bill.)

Despite a weak, all-cast opening of "Lotta Love," the first set picked up quickly, thanks to the dual guitar work of Little Feat's Paul Barrere and Raitt on "Dixie Chicken" and Raitt's haunting "Love Has No Pride."

The set reeled in other unforgettable moments as well — namely, legend King's soulful "I Feel the Earth Move" and The Section's (featuring Larson's husband, Russ Kunkel) tight backup work.

However, it was the second set that earned the evening's distinction. Browne's "Running on Empty" was well-suited, as was CSN's powerful "Southern Cross." But while angel-voiced Ronstadt's duet with Harris provided an inimitable vocal combination on "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues," it was Ronstadt's heartbreaking rendition of Jimmy Webb's "Adios" that proved the night's most poignant moment.

Sure, the evening had its letdowns: Young's conspicuous absence (he wasn't billed, but was highly figured to show up), a too-short appearance by Harris and only one performance of a Larson song, virtually ignoring much of her career. Yet any missteps quickly faded behind the sheer sight of everyone on stage for an emotional finale of "You've Got a Friend."

Still, as personal as Friday night was (every artist's connection with Larson was sincerely rendered), it was the momentous reunions that will probably, however unintentionally, be remembered.


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