Oregon Music News: Oregon’s all-genre music magazine since 2009


Darcelle passes away at age 92.

Walter Cole, best known as Darcelle died of natural causes at age 92. Listen to Darcelle sing "The Rose" with Pink Martini.

 Last night, on Darcelle's Facebook page came this announcement:

"The family of Darcelle XV along with her cast and crew are heartbroken to announce that our beloved Darcelle (Walter W. Cole, Sr.) has died at age 92 from natural causes. We ask for privacy and patience as everyone processes and grieves in their own way and at their own pace. Details of a public memorial will be announced as soon as they are confirmed. All shows at Darcelle XV Showplace will go on as scheduled per Darcelle’s wishes. Please join us and celebrate her legacy and memory, thank you in advance for your continued support."


We are told:

Walter W. Cole was born in Linnton, Oregon, in 1930, and rose from very humble beginnings to
become Darcelle XV, a sequined celebrity, and a legend of Oregon’s entertainment landscape.
Author, playwright, actor and costumer designer,

Darcelle founded the Darcelle XV Showplace, the oldest continuously running cabaret in the United States, in 1969, headlining there ever
since. In 2018 Darcelle was named the Guinness World Records’ “Oldest performing drag
queen,” and in 2020 Darcelle XV Showplace was recognized on the National Register of
Historic Places; it was the first LGBTQ space in Oregon to receive this honor.

In honor of Walter Cole’s five-plus decades as a celebrated part of the fabric of Oregon, Pink
Martini is releasing a two-song single featuring Darcelle’s signature song, “The Rose,”
(originally made famous by Bette Midler) alongside a new version of the classic standard
“What’ll I Do?”, which the band originally released on their 2013 studio album Get Happy.

Darcelle XV recorded both songs in 2021 the studio with engineer Steve Sundholm;
arrangements and production were provided by Pink Martini bandleader, Thomas M.
Lauderdale. The music is available for digital download and on a limited-edition CD; a vinyl 7”
single is in production and was released in early 2023. 

About the collaboration, Thomas Lauderdale says “If Oregon was a monarchy, without a doubt
our Queen would be Walter Cole, also known as Darcelle XV, who, with his partner Roxy LeRoy
Neuhardt at his side, has been a trailblazing pioneer for civil rights, a philanthropist and
businessman, and a consummate entertainer with bigger and better closets than Imelda

Bedazzled in jewels, beads and feathers, he has shown all of us how to be better
citizens. Pink Martini is honored to release Darcelle XV’s debut recording of two timeless
classics — Irving Berlin’s ‘What’ll I Do?’ and ‘The Rose’, Darcelle’s theme song — on the
occasion of Walter Cole’s 92nd birthday! Long live our Queen!!” Walter Cole, aka Darcelle XV,
states “When Thomas Lauderdale sits down at the grand, he becomes part of it. He’s the most
gifted musician I have ever had the pleasure to work with.”

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