DONNA LOREN INTERVIEW by BRAD HAMLIN for MYSTERY ISLAND MUSIC
Well, Donna Loren is back, and guess what? She looks hot and she sounds hot.
Donna, the “Dr Pepper Girl” and key member of the “Beach Party Gang” alumni, recently took time out of her busy schedule to talk to Mystery Island about her current projects and what it was like working in the 1960s on the great classic television shows such as: Batman, The Monkees, and Shindig!
Brad fired off as many questions as he could, and Donna summed up her super groovy career as best as she could for now, but had to remain a little hush-hush as she has a swingin’ new autobiography coming out soon. We’ll let you know as soon as that happens. Meanwhile, dig this!
(And stick around for a review of Loren’s new albums: Love it Away and Donna Does Elvis in Hawaii!)
Donna: Brad, first I want to thank you for your extremely thorough questionnaire.
To paraphrase: I am in the midst of a collaboration with a dear friend down under on Skype, writing my autobiography. The process is like an 'E' ticket on Space Mountain. My memories are vivid so here we gooooooooooo!
After a nationwide search I was selected to be the Dr Pepper Girl in 1963. I signed a contract for 7 years which was a dream come true for my parents. Dad quit his job and managed me. I was therefore kept on a very ‘short leash.’ Dr Pepper had a master plan to captivate the teen audience and branched out into product placement in films. Originally, I was only supposed to sit in ‘Big Drags’ hangout holding a Dr Pepper. Al Simms, the musical director for Muscle Beach Party, heard my jingles and created the duet with Dick Dale.
Just had some email dialogue with him recently asking if we could re-enact our song. He told me how ill he's been and how grateful he is for his loving wife and 19-year-old son.
Dick Clark became an integral part of my life regarding Dr Pepper. My first gig with him was co-hosting a live nationwide celebrity party and performing three songs; one where I pounded out Bill Bailey on piano!
Shindig will always be a stand out for me. I worked with so many great artists who are just as relevant today. I absolutely love Jack Good, the Shindig producer who gave me so many opportunities to feel free. I had my own dressing room which gave more privacy than I had ever known. I loved the hairdos I could invent and stacking on those false eye lashes.
Batman was a blast as was The Monkees. I will be reuniting with Adam West this fall at an autograph show here in Hollywood (http://www.hollywoodshow.com/). You know I gave Robin his 'first' Kiss!
[Editor's note: Of course you did, Donna; it happened at end of "He Meets His Match, The Grisly Ghoul" episode, right before they send you off to reform school for being a bad girl!]
I live to sing. It's like breathing for me. It keeps me focused and in the now- very Zen. I wish to be a female Tony Bennett and exercise my pipes from my heart to you all until the Good Lord takes me away.
Brad: Thank you so much for sharing that with us, Donna, and speaking of "in the now" we're happy to be in the know with Donna's latest recordings!
Love it Away blew me away. To be totally honest I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. Donna Loren has been around my world in so many ways that I feel like I grew up with her, and in some very real ways many of us did, from Dr Pepper commercials to her beach movie appearances to the great guest star moments she had on our favorite TV shows, but could Donna Loren still pull off the incredible vocal range she showcased on Shindig?
The answer is yes.
The opening track is a take on Randy Newman’s “Last Night I Had a Dream,” and it’s so silky cool it could fit right inside a David Lynch film. However, the second track is one of the greatest garage classics of all time, “Shakin’ All Over” which Donna actually did perform back on Shindig. Check out what she does with it now:
That’s garage gold right there.
Another standout track is the title song “Love it Away,” written by Donna Loren and beautifully done. Loren’s voice is as good as it ever was. You get more great songs penned by Donna and even get to hear her sing in French on “UR.” The album rounds out well with other awesome and diverse covers: Jackson Browne’s “Live Nude Cabaret,” Jeff Lynne’s “Don’t Bring Me Down,” and Neil Young’s “Old Man,” and I can definitely go on record here saying I like Donna’s voice a whole lot better than Neil’s. Sorry Neil. Oh, Donna also does Dylan with “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight,” and you know that’s cool.
If you like classic songs of the ‘60s and ‘70s, the beach party films, or just a damn good voice as opposed to all that noise currently on the radio … this one’s for you.
But don’t stop now! You can keep a-movin’ and a-groovin’ with Donna’s EP: Donna does Elvis in Hawaii! Is that the greatest album title or what?
Donna lived in Hawaii and recently moved back to California, so she knows her Hawaii and she certainly knows her Elvis!
Donna does: “Merry Christmas, Baby,” “Loving You,” “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear,” and “One Night.”
If you dig Donna, if you dig Elvis, hey, this one’s a no-brainer!