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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Sonny West born 30 July 1937



Sonny West {born July 30, 1937, near Lubbock, Texas) is a rock and roll-musician. He wrote "Oh, Boy!" and several other Buddy Holly songs. 
 
Joe "Sonny" was the fifth and last child of Joseph & Alberta West. He was born July 30 1937 at the family home in Clovis Road, on the outskirts of Lubbock. Shortly afterwards the family moved to El Morro, a rural area near Grants, NM where the family homesteaded 160 acres. Although the family invariably lived in remote areas, which didn't have electricity, Sonny was listening to the family's collection of 78's on a wind-up gramophone by the age of 6. This covered marching songs by John Philip Sousa to Gene Austin and Jimmie Rodgers train songs. 

Sonny played various brass instruments at school and took up mandolin during a spell in California. On returning to New Mexico he had private guitar lessons from Michael Lee Bell whose father was a local musician. School Music Appreciation courses introduced him to classical music but by his early teens Sonny was more interested in blues, especially Jimmy Reed, together with some country by the likes of Hank Williams. This naturally led him to rock & roll. Sonny left school in Gallup, NM at age 17 and started working at a general store in a Navajo Reservation where it was normal to trade shop merchandise for handmade Indian jewellery and rugs. He'd already been working school concerts and whatever other gigs he could find.  

By late 1955 Sonny was living in Farmington, NM where he befriended Gibson-playing lead guitarist, Buddy Smith. They worked together on a live Saturday night show for the local station, Radio KENN and whatever gigs they could find. Around April 1956 Sonny phoned Sam Phillips in hopes of an audition for Sun Records but Sam discouraged the idea. Nevertheless he quit his job at a Ford dealership and made the long speculative trip to Memphis in his '51 Chevy to audition. But Sam wouldn't even listen, saying he already had too much talent to handle. The trip wiped out all Sonny's money and he moved in with his sister Ramona and her husband in Texas. He met and was encouraged by Bob Kaliff, a DJ at the local Radio KLVT. 

Sonny soon formed a band with Jimmy Metz (string bass) and Doc McKay (drums) and as the sound developed he asked Smith to join the band with the intention of getting a recording contract. McKay's mother ran a Dance Studio, which the group used to rehearse and write songs. They were never more than part-time musicians but worked as far away as Dallas, where they guested on the Big 'D' Jamboree but discovered they couldn't follow Jerry Reed. They also had a residency at a Lubbock teen club (probably the Bamboo) where Sonny met Buddy Holly. The two also worked on KDAV's Sunday Party.

Sonny began recording demos of his songs; one was titled All My Love which was covered by Buddy Holly as Oh Boy for which Norman Petty added his name to the composer credits. Sonny left Clovis after a blazing row at a 1958 recording session between Sonny & Norman.  
 
 


Sonny, like many others, may have had mixed feelings about his association with Norman Petty but his income as a songwriter was certainly increased thanks to Buddy Holly and The Crickets recording his songs. Whether Petty's share of the songwriting and publishing royalties of these songs could be justified is less certain, and Sonny's career as a singer certainly faltered after he refused to assign a third of the writer's share along with the customary 50% publishers cut. Despite this, he remained in contact with Norman and Vi Petty until their deaths and continued to offer them new songs. Unfortunately, the present owners of the Petty Studios have not responded to Sonny's requests to return to him the unissued (and possibly forgotten) recordings that probaby remain in their vaults. 

Sadly, in the early 1960's he became involved in a pseudo-religious group which almost destroyed him partly because he agreed to their demand he renounce music and trash all copies of his discs. 

Since quitting music Sonny has paid the bills by distributing and

repairing jukeboxes and pinball machines, naturally including Rock-Ola product! He gained a patent on a new cartridge which allowed modern microgroove stereo discs to be played on old jukeboxes. He's also worked as a rancher and silversmith but became a photocopier technician in 1985.
 
 In 1990 Sonny privately issued a 12 song cassette including one new song, the clever "Ride", which may be the only song to link "Maybelline", "CC Rider" and Luke The Drifter, and a new version of "Oh Boy" which was inspired by an "Oh Buick" car advert and contains the new line "Oh Boy, I've Seen The Light" which pays homage to Hank Williams and is perhaps Sonny's reaction to composer credits on publishing contracts. 

West’s ‘50s life as a musician and songwriter was not easy, especially because of his parents’ frequent relocations in the Southwest. But that didn’t dissuade him from his artistic expression. It only made him more determined, and even though West experienced frequent, rock-ribbed painful moments of discouragement, he had the strength and exceptional talent to meet that powerful negative head on and come away a winner. Without a doubt, Sonny West has earned his due as a major historic contributor during the maturation of rock ‘n’ roll while it was in its early infancy.  

West is one of the original inductees of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame® and the West Texas Musicians Hall of Fame and is the recipient of BMI's million airplays award. His songs have been recorded by scores of artists and are featured in dozens of movies, TV shows and documentaries.


Sonny continues to write and record his own material and since coming out of musical retirement in 2001 regularly appears on stage shows and roots music shows performing his well known classics.  (info edited mainly from rollercoasterrecords.com)



Blue Monday ( France ) Presents " There's A Good Rockin' Tonight 10 éme Anniversary " Festival d'Attignat 29 / 04 / 2012 Tommy Allsup & Sonny West - It's So Easy

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Ellyn Rucker born 29 July 1937


Ellyn Rucker born July 29, 1937  is a bop pianist and singer. Rucker was over 40 years old before she pursued a fulltime career in music. 

Born 29 July 1937, Des Moines, Iowa, USA. Singer and pianist Ellyn Rucker’s great pianistic skills and her sensuous voice belie her late start as a jazz performer. Coming from a very musical family, Rucker first took an interest in piano when she was eight years old. Later, she studied classical piano at Drake University, but by the age of 13 her brother had persuaded her to listen to jazz. She began playing clubs and hotels in her home-town area, but it was 1979 before she became a full-time professional musician. In the ensuing time she was an ordinary mother, raising a family, and playing infrequently. 

By this stage in her career, she had also begun to sing occasionally to her own accompaniment. She spent several years working in Denver, Colorado, where she was heard by Mark Murphy who advised her to try for the "big time". Although essentially a solo player, sometimes working with a rhythm section, she has occasionally worked with visiting jazzmen, including Roy Eldridge, James Moody, Clark Terry, Richie Cole and Buddy Tate. 

In 1986 she played at the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands and in subsequent years toured Europe and the UK. Latterly, Rucker has continued to concentrate on solo tours but has also worked with Spike Robinson on a number of occasions. Her accompanists on records have included Robinson, Pete Christlieb and John Clayton. An eclectic pianist, with a wide-ranging repertoire, Rucker is gradually becoming accepted as an inventive and skilled jazz musician. Her playing style can be elegantly poised or dynamically forceful depending upon the material or the mood that she is in. Her singing, although less strongly promoted than her piano playing, is easy and natural. 

She is not well-known to the general jazz fan. Her bop and Bill Evans influenced piano can stand on its own, and her singing is top rank. Her few recordings show her music to be powerful and appealing. Ellyn Rucker is an underrated jazz musician. She has recorded several albums for Capri and has a full-length video on Leisure Jazz.. 

Perhaps if Ellyn Rucker had taken up music full-time 20 years earlier or lived in a larger area than Denver she would be a bigger name. However, her talent has long been in the major leagues and her recordings are all quite appealing and powerful. 
 

 
           Here is "The Night Has a 1000 Eyes" from above album 

Ms. Rucker since 1987 has released some fine records as “Ellyn,” (’87) “This Heart of Mine” (’88) “Nice Work!,” (89) “Thoughts of You,” (92) these are on the Capri label. She then went with the Leisure label for “Live In New Orleans” again in ’92. Her latest release is from 2003 “Now,” on Capri.   

 (Info edited from AMG, Capri & Encyclopedia of Popular Music)

Here's the Lenny Kaye Quartet featuring Lenny Kaye - Vocals, Ellyn Rucker - Piano, Dean Ross - Bass, and Jack McCutchan - Drums


Monday, 28 July 2014

Rudy Vallee born 28 July 1901


Rudy Vallée (July 28, 1901 - July 3, 1986) was a popular American singer, actor, bandleader, and entertainer. Born Hubert Prior Vallée in Island Pond, Vermont, he grew up in Westbrook, Maine. In high school, he took up the saxophone and acquired the nickname "Rudy" after then famous saxophonist Rudy Wiedoeft. 


Having played drums in his high school band, Vallee played clarinet and saxophone in various bands around New England in his youth. In 1917, he felt that Uncle Sam needed one more brave young man in World War I, but was discharged when the Navy authorities found out that he was only 15. 

 From 1924 through 1925, he played with the "Savoy Havana Band" in London. He then returned to the States to obtain a degree in Philosophy from Yale and to form his own band, "Rudy Vallee and the Connecticut Yankees." He had a rather thin, wavering tenor voice and seemed more at home singing sweet ballads than attempting vocals on jazz numbers. However, his singing, together with his suave manner and handsome boyish looks, attracted great attention, especially from young women. Vallee was given a recording contract and in 1928, he started performing on the radio. 

Vallee also became what was perhaps the first complete example of the 20th century mass media pop star. Flappers (the predecessors of "bobby soxers"), mobbed him wherever he went. His live appearances were usually sold out, and even if his singing could hardly be heard in those venues not yet equipped with the new electronic microphones, his screaming female fans went home happy if they had caught sight of his lips through the opening of the trademark megaphone he sang through. 

In 1929, Vallee did his first film, The Vagabond Lover. His first films were made to cash in on his singing popularity, but Hollywood found Vallee could act as well. Also in 1929, Vallee began hosting The Fleischmann's Yeast Hour. Performers first introduced to the American public on that program included Jack Benny, Eddie Cantor and Kate Smith. 

Vallee continued hosting popular radio variety shows through the 1930s and 1940s. The Royal Gelatin Hour featured various film performers of the era, such as Fay Wray and Richard Cromwell in dramatic skits. 
 
 

 
 
Along with his group, The Connecticut Yankees, Vallee's best known popular recordings included: "The Stein Song" (aka University of Maine fighting song) in the early part of the decade and "Vieni, Vieni" in the latter '30s. Remarkably for an American, Vallee sang fluently in three Mediterranean languages. 

His reputation in Hollywood was that of a tightwad, but he wasn't the only one. He also had a reputation for being one of the most difficult people in show business to work for.. On several occasions, Vallee was known to have rushed into his audience in order to punch audience members who booed.  

He was married briefly to the much-younger and sexy actress Jane Greer, but that ended in divorce in 1944. His previous marriage to Leonie Cuachois was annulled and the one to Fay Webb ended in divorce. After divorcing Jane Greer, he married Eleanor Norris in 1946, who wrote a memoir, My Vagabond Lover. 

In 1955, Vallée was featured in Gentlemen Marry Brunettes, co-starring Jane Russell, Alan Young, and Jeanne Crain. The production was filmed on location in Paris. The film was based on the Anita Loos novel that was a sequel to her acclaimed Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Gentlemen Marry Brunettes was popular throughout Europe at the time and was released in France as A Paris Pour les Quatre ("Paris for the Four"), and in Belgium as Tevieren Te Parijs. 

He performed on Broadway as J.B. Biggley in the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and reprised the role in the film version of the show. He appeared in the campy 1960s Batman television show as the character "Lord Marmaduke Ffogg". He toured with a one-man theater show into the 1980s. He occasionally opened for The Village People.

 In 1971 he made a television appearance as a vindictive surgeon in the Night Gallery episode "Marmalade Wine."

In the twilight of his years, Vallee’s Yankee work ethic kept spurring him on. He kept a wide correspondence with celebrities and fans; he entertained lavishly at Silver Tip, his home in California; and he played benefit concerts for many veterans’ hospitals and charitable causes. Vallee died of  cancer July 3, 1986, with his fourth wife Eleanor at his side. As they watched the Independence Day celebrations on television, Vallee’s last words were, “Wouldn’t it be fun to be there? You know how I love a party"... 

 
He is interred in St. Hyacinth's Cemetery in Westbrook, Maine. (info edited mainly from Wikipedia)
 


Rudy Vallee sings in "The Vagabond Lover" 1929
All the songs from his first talking picture.  Songs:
"I'm Just a Vagabond Lover"
"I Love You, Believe Me, I Love You"
"If You Were the Only Girl in the World"
"A Little Kiss Each Morning (A Little Kiss Each Night)"
"I Love You, Believe Me, I Love You" (Reprise)
"Then I'll Be Reminded of You"

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Bobby Hebb born 26 July 1938


Bobby Hebb (July 26, 1938 – August 3, 2010) was American R&B/soul singer, musician, songwriter, recording artist, and performer known for his 1966 hit entitled "Sunny". 
 
He was born Robert Von Hebb in Nashville, Tennessee. Hebb's parents, William and Ovalla Hebb, were both blind musicians. Hebb and his older brother Harold performed as a song-and-dance team in Nashville, beginning when Bobby was three and Harold was nine. Hebb performed on a TV show hosted by country music record producer Owen Bradley, which earned him a place with Grand Ole Opry star Roy Acuff. Hebb played spoons and other instruments in Acuff's band. Harold later became a member of Johnny Bragg and the Marigolds. Bobby Hebb sang backup on Bo Diddley's "Diddley Daddy". Hebb played "West-coast-style" trumpet in a United States Navy jazz band, and replaced Mickey Baker in Mickey and Sylvia. ( At 13, Bobby Hebb (front) tap dancing with Chet Atkins (left), Erwin Tussey on sax, Grady Martin playing guitar and Tommy Jackson playing fiddle.)
 
On November 23, 1963, the day after John F. Kennedy's assassination, Harold Hebb was killed in a knife fight outside a Nashville nightclub. Hebb was devastated by both events and sought comfort in song writing. Though many claim that the song he wrote after both tragedies was the optimistic "Sunny", Hebb himself stated otherwise. He immersed himself in the Gerald Wilson album, You Better Believe It!, for comfort.

"All my intentions were just to think of happier times – basically looking for a brighter day – because times were at a low tide. After I wrote it, I thought "Sunny" just might be a different approach to what Johnny Bragg was talking about in "Just Walkin' in the Rain". 
 
 
 

"Sunny" was recorded in New York City, after demos were made with the record producer Jerry Ross. Released as a single, it reached #3 on the R&B charts, # 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, # 12 in the UK, sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold
disc. When Hebb toured with The Beatles in 1966 his "Sunny" was as well received as any Beatles tune, as evidenced by tapes of the concerts. BMI rated "Sunny" number 25 in its "Top 100 songs of the century".

"Sunny" has been recorded by, among others jamiroquai, Cher, Boney M, Georgie Fame, Johnny Rivers, Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra with Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Electric Flag, The Four Seasons, Leonard Nimoy, two different versions from Frankie Valli, the Four Tops, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Les McCann, Wes Montgomery, Dusty Springfield, and Classics IV. One re-recording, a disco version called "Sunny '76" was a minor hit for Hebb in that year hitting #94 on the R&B chart. In 2000, Musiq did an updated dance version retitled "Just Friends (Sunny)," which went to #31 on the U.S. Billboard charts. 

Hebb also had lesser hits with his "A Satisfied Mind" in 1966 (# 39 on the Billboard chart and #40 on the R&B chart) and "Love Me" in 1967 (# 84). He was a prolific writer, known in the US as the "song-a-day man", with over 1,000 compositions to his name. In 1971, Lou Rawls won a Grammy with "A Natural Man", a song Hebb had co-written with Sandy Baron.
 
Six years prior to "Sunny", Hebb reached the New York Top 50 with a remake of Roy Acuff's "Night Train To Memphis". In 1972, his single "Love Love Love" reached # 32 in the UK charts. 

After a recording gap of thirty five years, Hebb recorded That's All I Wanna Know, his first commercial release since Love Games for Epic Records in 1970. It was released in Europe in late 2005 by Tuition, a pop indie label. New versions of "Sunny" were also issued (two duets: one with Astrid NorthAstrid North, and one with Pat Appleton.

In 2004, Hebb was part of another Grammy-winning team, as one of the performers included on the Best Historical Album, the compilation Night Train to Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues, 1945-1970. ). In October 2008 he toured and played in Osaka and Tokyo in Japan. 

"We're in the University of Life and last time I checked, no one is in a hurry to graduate," Hebb said in 2004. His only regret was that Ray Charles wasn't one of the 500-plus artists who have recorded "Sunny".
 

Hebb continued to live in his hometown of Nashville until his death from lung cancer, at the Centennial Medical Center on August 3, 2010. He was 72. He is interred at Nashville's Spring Hill Cemetery. (Info edited from Wikipedia & The Independent)
 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Amilia Rodrigues born 23 July 1920


Amalia Rodrigues, born Amália da Piedade Rodrigues (July 23, 1920 – October 6, 1999), was a Portuguese singer and actress. She was known as the "Rainha do Fado" ("Queen of Fado") and was most influential in popularizing the fado worldwide. She was one of the most important figures in the genre's development, and enjoyed a 40-year recording and stage career.
 
Amália' performances and choice of repertoire pushed fado's boundaries and helped redefine it and reconfigure it for her and subsequent generations. In effect, Amália wrote the rulebook on what fado could be and on how a female fadista — or fado singer — should perform it, to the extent that she remains an unsurpassable model and an unending source of repertoire for all those who came afterwards. Amália enjoyed an extensive international career between the 1950s and the 1970s, although in an era where such efforts were not as easily quantified as today. She was the main inspiration to other well-known international fado and popular music artists such as Madredeus, Dulce Pontes and Mariza.
 
Amália Rodrigues was born in Lisbon, Portugal July 23rd, 1920 to a poor and numerous family. Since her childhood she showed a talent for singing although she debuted formally in 1939 at 19 years old, becoming a great popular success. During World War II she carried out long tours for Spain and Brazil and she obtained in 1945 her first great musical success with the song "Ai Mouraria". 

In 1947 she debuted as an actress in the Portuguese movie "Capas Negras" (with Alberto Ribeiro) and it became the best movie of the year in Portugal and Amália became a great international celebrity and the most admired and loved star of Portugal.  
 

 
          Here’s E Ou Nao E? from above 2005 compilation.
This album presents 18 classic tracks by Portugal's revered Queen of Fado. Typically accompanied by acoustic guitar and mandolin, Rodrigues mesmerizes listeners with her intensely emotional voice, which perfectly embodies the melancholy Portuguese term "saudade." THE ART OF AMALIA RODRIGUES II draws primarily from Rodrigues's most prolific period in the 1950s and '60s, when she not only recorded many albums but also starred in a number of Portuguese films.

 
 
During the 50 and 60's Amália become the maximum exponent of Portugal's popular music and so, their main ambassador for her very successful movies (including "Sangue Toureiro", by the way, the first Portuguese movie filmed in color) as well as for her LPs. Among her well-known songs are: "Lisboa Antiga", "Foi Deus", "Coimbra" (also known as "April in Portugal"), "Barco Negro", "Canção do Mar", "Nem as Paredes Confesso", "Lisboa, Não Sejas Francesa", "Arranjuez, mon amour" (French version of "Concierto de Aranjuez" of Joaquín Rodrigo), "Vou Dar de Beber à Dor" and "Com que Voz", among many others. She also sang poems turned music of several Portuguese poets and, in fact, Variety's magazine chose her in 1959 as one of the four best female singers in history. 

When the "Revolução Dos Cravos" ("Carnation's Revolution") happened on April 25th, 1974 which finished 48 years of Fascist government in Portugal, rumours arose that Amália collaborated with the deposed government. Her fame was seriously affected and she decided to retire from show business for not entering in polemic (although soon, after its death, it was discovered that she collaborated privately with the Communist Party of Portugal) but one year after, she acted in the Coliseu Theater of Lisbon where 5,000 people applauded her on foot, demonstrating with this that her public never released her. After that, Amália continued her career as if nothing happened and in 1980 she debuted as composer. 

In April 19th, 1985 Amália presented her show in the Coliseu dos Recreios of Lisbon, being her first solo concert in Portugal after 10 years and she obtained a record of attendance. In 1989, for her 50 years of artistic career, the President of Portugal Mário Soares honoured her and the Pope John Paul II in Rome, Italy received her in private audience. During her last years, Amália received countless tributes inside and outside of Portugal and suddenly died while she slept in her house of Lisbon on October 6th, 1999. She was buried in an impressive funeral ceremony with the massive attendance of her fans. 

 
Amália, who was once considered by Variety one of the voices of the century, remains to this day as the most international of Portuguese artists and singers, and in Portugal, a national icon. (Info edited from Wikipedia & IMDB)
 


Amalia Rodrigues - As Peras - 1980 Carlos / A.Rodrigues                 - "Les Poires"

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Chuck Jackson born 22 July 1937

 
Chuck Jackson (born July 22, 1937) is an American R&B singer, songwriter, and producer who earned his place in music history landing 23 songs on the R&B and Top 40 charts. An elegant baritone called "Mr. Everything" by his fans Jackson is best known for his all time classic R&B standard "Any Day Now". His other top hits include "I Don’t Want to Cry”, “Beg Me” and "All Over the World".  He was one of the first artists to record material by Burt Bacharach and Hal David successfully.
 
He was born in Latta, South Carolina, but was raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The first to experience the sheer power of Chuck Jackson's incredible voice were the members of his grandmother's church, where the future soul sensation led the gospel choir at the impossibly young age of eleven. While still a teen, Jackson toured the U.S. in a major gospel group  and again as a member of The Del Vikings.
 
Between 1957 and 1959, he was a member of The Del-Vikings, singing lead on the 1957 release "Willette." After leaving them, he was "discovered" by Luther Dixon when he opened for soul legend Jackie Wilson at the Apollo Theater. He signed a recording contract with Scepter Records subsidiary Wand Records. His first single, "I Don't Want to Cry", which he co-wrote, was his first hit (1961). The song charted on both the R&B and pop charts.  

 

In 1962, Jackson's recording of the Burt Bacharach-Bob Hilliard song "Any Day Now" became a huge hit and his signature song. His popularity in the 1960s prompted him to buy up the time on his contract from Scepter and move to Motown Records. There he recorded a number of successful singles, "Honey Come Back." He later recorded for All Platinum and other labels, but with minimal success.  

After meeting producer/composer Charles Wallert at the Third Annual Beach Music Awards, the two collaborated to record "How Long Have You Been Loving Me" on Carolina Records. 

In 1998 Jackson teamed with longtime friend Dionne Warwick to record "If I Let Myself Go", arranged as a duet by Wallert for Wave Entertainment. The recording received critical acclaim and charted at number 19 on the Gavin Adult Contemporary Charts. Jackson followed with "What Goes Around, Comes Around", another Wallert production and composition, and reached number 13 on the Gavin Charts.

Several of Jackson's songs later became hits for other artists, including Ronnie Milsap, whose 1982 cover version of "Any Day Now" reached #1 on the Country and Adult Contemporary charts, and Michael McDonald, who covered "I Keep Forgettin'" with much success. "I Keep Forgettin'" was also covered by David Bowie in his album "Tonight". Jackson was close friends with political strategist Lee Atwater. He appears in the documentary, Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story. Australian pop-rock band Big Pig recorded a cover to "I Can't Break Away", simply title "Breakaway", which was used as the opening theme to the 1989 film Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. 

 
Chuck Jackson is also the consummate performer. His charismatic live shows continue to thrill audiences all over the world. (Info mainly Wikipedia)
 

Monday, 21 July 2014

Helen Merrill born 21 July 1930


Helen Merrill (born Jelena Ana Milcetic on July 21, 1930 in New York City) is an internationally known jazz vocalist.
Merrill's recording career has spanned six decades and she is popular with fans of jazz in Japan and Italy (where she lived for many years) as well as in her native United States. She has recorded and performed with some of the most notable figures in the American jazz scene.
Merrill was born in 1930 to Croatian immigrant parents. She began singing in jazz clubs in the Bronx at the age of fourteen. By the time she was sixteen, Merrill had taken up music full time. In 1952, Merrill made her recording debut when she was asked to sing "A Cigarette For Company" with the Earl Hines Band; the song was released on their Xanadu album. Etta Jones made her debut on the same album.
At this time she was married to musician Aaron Sachs. They divorced in 1956.
As a result of the exposure she received from "A Cigarette for Company" and two subsequent singles recorded for the Roost record label, Merrill was signed by Mercury Records for their new Emarcy label.
In 1954, Merrill recorded her first (and to date most acclaimed) LP, an eponymous record featuring legendary jazz trumpet player Clifford Brown and bassist/cellist Oscar Pettiford, among others. It was to be one of Brown's last recordings, as he was killed in a car accident just two years later. The album was produced and arranged by Quincy Jones, who was then just twenty-one years old. The success of Helen Merrill prompted Mercury to sign her for an additional four-album contract.
Merrill's follow-up to Helen Merrill was the 1956 LP, Dream of You, which was produced and arranged by bebop arranger and pianist Gil Evans. Evans' work on Dream of You was his first in many years. His arrangements on Merrill's laid the musical foundations for his work in following years with Miles Davis.
After recording sporadically through the late 1950s and 1960s,
Merrill spent much of her time touring Europe, where she enjoyed more commercial success than she had in the United States. She settled for a time in Italy recording an album there, and doing live concerts with jazz notables Chet Baker, Romano Mussolini, and Stan Getz. Merrill returned to the U.S. in the 1960s, but moved to Japan in 1967 after touring there. Merrill developed a following in Japan that remains strong to this day. In addition to recording while in Japan, Merrill became involved in other aspects of the music industry, producing albums for Trio Records and hosting a show on a Tokyo radio station.
 
Here's "What Is This Thing Called Love" from above 1965 album 

 
Merrill returned to the US in 1972 and has continued recording and regular touring since then. Her later career has seen her experiment in different music  genres. She has recorded a bossa nova album, a Christmas album and a record's worth of Rodgers and Hammerstein, among many others.
One of Merrill's millennium released recordings draws from her Croatian heritage as well as her American upbringing. Jelena Ana Milcetic, also known as Helen Merrill (2000), combines jazz, pop and blues songs with several traditional Croatian songs sung in Croatian.

Helen Merrill has been married three times, first to musician Aaron Sachs, second time to UPI vice president Donald J Brydon, and third to arranger-conductor Torrie Zito. Merrill became involved in other aspects of the music industry, producing albums for Trio Records and hosting a show on a Tokyo radio station. She has one child, a son, Allan P Sachs, also a singer, who is professionally known as Alan Merrill. (info Wikipedia)

Helen Merrill sings "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To" live, backed by husband Torrie Zito on piano, Ned Mahn on bass, and Terry Clarke on drums.