American singer/songwriter, born July 17, 1952, Helena, Montana; died December 16, 1997, Los Angeles, California. Survived by her husband, drummer Russ Kunkel (married 1990), one daughter, Elsie May Kunkel (Elsie May Valentine; born July 24, 1990).
Born in Helena, Montana, relocated frequently as a child, living in St. Louis, Missouri, Boston, Massachusetts, Alexandria, Virginia, Birmingham, Alabama, and Portland, Oregon, before setting in Kansas City, Missouri. Attended University of Missouri Kansas City. Relocated to San Francisco, got a job at a record store in Berkeley, and was soon hired as production secretary at the Golden State Country Bluegrass Festival.
Began her musical career in earnest in the early 1970s, singing with David Nichtern & The Nocturnes. Met (and later married) Nichtern's guitarist Hank Devito (they divorced 1978). Relocated to Los Angeles, and became friends with Linda Ronstadt, through whom she was introduced to Neil Young. By 1978, she'd contributed backup vocals to Young's American Stars 'N Bars and Comes A Time. The latter featured "Lotta Love," which would become Larson's own signature song as included on her own 1978 debut album Nicolette.
After providing harmonies for the likes of Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris and The Doobie Brothers, and doing a stint in Commander Cody, Larson released four solo albums for Warner Bros. before moving to Nashville and recording her MCA debut, Say When, which garnered the Country Music Academy's Best New Female Vocalist award and produced the hit duet with Steve Warner, "That's When You Know When Love's Right." She continued recording until a cerebral edema took her life in December 1997. In February 1998, two tribute concerts were held at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in California, gathering such artists as Carole King, Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, Joe Walsh, Bonnie Raitt and Linda Ronstadt.
A CD recording of the concert was released on the Rhino Records label in February 2006: A Tribute To Nicolette Larson - Lotta Love Concert.