Sunday, 17 February 2019

Dalida born 17 February 1933

Iolanda Cristina Gigliotti (17 January 1933 – 3 May 1987), professionally known as Dalida, was a Franco-Italian singer and actress who performed and recorded in more than 10 languages including: Arabic, Italian, Greek, German, French, English, Japanese, Hebrew, Dutch and Spanish. She received 55 gold records and was the first singer to receive a diamond disc. A 30-year career (she debuted in 1956 and recorded her last album in 1986, a few months before her death) and her death led to an iconic image as a tragic diva and renowned singer.

She was born Yolande Gigliotti, the daughter of Italian parents living in Cairo. She attended a religious school and studied stenography, by the time she was 17, however, she had blossomed into a beautiful young woman, and began entering talent and beauty competitions. In 1954, the same year that she won the title of Miss Egypt, she made her first screen appearance in an Egyptian production entitled Sigarah Wa Kas, directed by Niazi Mostafa. She began using the name "Dalila," owing to her resemblance to Hedy Lamarr in the costume epic Samson and Delilah, and this was later in France altered to Dalida.

She left Egypt in 1955 to pursue a screen career in Paris. Dalida was cast in the film Le Masque de Toutankhamen, directed by Marco de Gastyne, but much more important to her career was a short singing stint that she took on in Paris. She accepted an offer to sing in the intermission between acts at a club, La Villa d'Este, where she was spotted by Bruno Coquatrix, a producer at the Olympia Theatre, the largest performing venue in the city and also by radio producer Lucien Morisse.


The two took her under their wing, Coquatrix introducing her to the French public, while Morisse later married her. Record producer Eddie Barclay, a former jazz pianist, signed Dalida to a contract with his own Barclay label, and her second single, "Bambino" became a huge hit in 1956. The following year, she was awarded a gold record for a million sales of the single in Europe.

 Her later hits included "Gondolier" (1957), "Come Prima 'Tu Me Donnes'" (1958), "Les Gitans" (1958), "Ciao Ciao Bambina" (1959), "Les Enfants du Piree" (1960), and "La Danse de Zorba" (1965), the latter a vocal version of the dance from the movie Zorba the Greek. From 1960 onward, her brother, billed simply as Orlando, oversaw her recordings as producer, and could take some credit for securing her continued success in the 1960s and beyond.

With the advent of the rock & roll era in the early '60s, Dalida adapted successfully to the new music, her recordings making use of a band with more of a beat, as she took on new material, including French versions of songs by the Drifters, the Kingston Trio and others. By 1964, she'd sold an extraordinary 30 million records worldwide, though all of those sales were in the non-English speaking world, from the Middle East to Germany.

Dalida went through several transitions in image -- from dark hair and makeup and elegant gowns in the mid-'50s  into a striking blonde in revealing outfits and shorter skirts in the 1960s and beyond, so much so that it was difficult to believe that she was the same performer. She maintained a screen career as well, appearing in over a dozen movies in France and Italy from 1955 through the end of the 1960s.

A heavy performing schedule, coupled with an unsettled romantic life, took their toll. The singer's life took a sudden dark turn when her then-current lover Luigi Tenco, a singer, killed himself at the 1967 San Remo Festival after failing to qualify for a spot on the program. Dalida, who found the body, made the first of several suicide attempts soon after. Following her recovery, she restarted her career in a slightly different direction, recording more serious and thoughtful songs.

Her ex-husband Lucien Morisse took his own life sometime after her attempt at suicide in the wake of Tenco's death. Dalida's later involvement marriage to a man identified as the Count of St. Germain, who turned out not to be a count only added to the picture of a personal life in turmoil and seemed to make her that much more alluring to her admirers. In the midst of this, she won the Oscar Mondial du Disque (World Oscar of Recording), a French award for her "Gigi L'Amoroso," beating out competitors that included Frank Sinatra's "Strangers in the Night."  Dalida's career in the 1980s had slowed somewhat as she entered her fifties, looking at least a decade younger but no longer doing 200 engagements a year as she had in her prime.

In 1986, she returned to her native Egypt to make a film, The Sixth Day, with director Youssef Chahine,  in which she gave what the critics felt was a superb acting performance. She continued to make Paris her home, where she remained a huge concert draw during her final decade.

On May 3, 1987, Dalida was found dead of an overdose of barbiturates, an apparent suicide at the age of 54. She left behind a note which read, "La vie m'est insupportable... Pardonnez-moi." ("Life is unbearable for me... Forgive me.") Dalida is buried at the Montmartre Cemetery.

(Mainly edited from a Bruce Eder bio @ AllMusic)

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Patty Andrews born 16 February 1918

Patty Andrews (born February 16, 1918, Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.—died January 30, 2013, Los Angeles, California) was an American singer and entertainer best known as part of the Andrews Sisters musical trio. The sisters racked up 19 gold records, scores of top 10 singles and record sales that tallied close to 100 million.

Patty Andrews was born the youngest of three surviving children to immigrant parents—their father, Peter, was from Greece, and their mother, Olga, was from Norway. As a child, she took up singing with her elder sisters, LaVerne and Maxene. Patty, a soprano singer, was given the lead parts, and her sisters sang harmony. The trio performed around Minneapolis before joining Larry Rich’s troupe on the vaudeville circuit in the early 1930s.

After their vaudeville run ended in 1932, the sisters continued to perform. While in New York City in 1937, they made their first recordings as part of Leon Belasco’s band. While there, the sisters came to the attention of record executive Jack Kapp. He quickly signed them to Decca Records, and they released their first single, “Why Talk About Love,” in 1937. Though “Why Talk About Love” proved to be a poor seller, the sisters’ second single, an English version of the Yiddish song “Bei mir bist du schoen” (1937; “To Me You’re Beautiful”), was a major hit.

The Andrews Sisters continued to gain popularity in the following years, releasing such hit songs as “Hold Tight, Hold Tight” (1938), “I’ll Be with You in Apple Blossom Time” (1940), and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” (1941). They made regular appearances on the radio and collaborated with stars, including Bing Crosby, and with such popular acts as the Glenn Miller Orchestra. In 1940 the sisters signed with Universal Pictures, appearing in movies with Abbott and Costello, among others.

After the United States entered World War II, they began performing for the troops, including travelling overseas with the USO (United Service Organizations) in 1945. Although they had gained much of their popularity before the war, the sisters were best remembered for their upbeat patriotic spirit during this time. Hit songs from the war era included “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (with Anyone Else but Me)”(1942) and “Rum and Coca-Cola” (1944). The sisters were known for the diversity of their songs, which incorporated a wide range of styles—from boogie-woogie and swing to calypso—and cultural backgrounds.


In 1949 Patty began edging toward a solo career, recording “I Can Dream, Can’t I?” and, the following year, “I Wanna Be Loved,” with her sisters performing backup rather than harmony. She went on to release several solo works with Decca. By 1954 Patty had left Decca Records and focused on solo work exclusively. However, 
she rejoined her sisters in 1956, and the trio made frequent appearances in nightclubs and on television, continuing until LaVerne was forced to retire because of poor health. After LaVerne’s death in 1967, Patty and Maxene joined up with singer Joyce de Young to continue the trio, but they disbanded for good in 1968. By this time, the sisters had released some 600 songs, of which more than 100 had made the charts.

In 1973, Patty and Maxene enjoyed a resurgence of popularity following Bette Midler's nostalgic hit version of the girls' signature song "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy." As a result, the two starred together on Broadway a year later (March 1974) in the WWII musical "Over Here" which ran for 10 months, was the hit of the season. The sisters got into a bitter money dispute with the producers and with each other, leading to the show’s closing in January 1975 and the cancellation of plans for a national tour. After that, the sisters pursued solo careers into the 1990s. They never reconciled and were still estranged when Maxene Andrews died in 1995.

Patty continued to perform as a solo artist into the 1990s. Wally Weschler, her husband of 60 years, died on August 28, 2010, at the age of 88. After his death, Patty was reunited with many of her friends. However she began to suffer from the effects of dementia and lived out her final days in hospice care at her adopted home. She died of the effects of advanced age with much of her massive recorded legacy remaining in print.

(Edited from IMDb and mainly a bio by Alison Eldridge @

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Lucy Reed born 14 February 1921

Lucy Reed (January 14, 1921 – July 1, 1998) was an American jazz singer, noted on the Chicago jazz scene in the 1950s.

Lucy Reed was an appealing but little known jazz vocalist who performed around Chicago in the '50s. The cool-toned Reed, who appreciated cool school singers like Chris Connor and June Christy, lived in different parts of the Midwest -- she was born Lucille Reed in Marshfield, Wisconsin in 1921 went to high school in St. Paul, MN in the late '30s/early '40s and lived in Milwaukee, WI, Iron City, MI and Duluth, MN in the '40s before living in Chicago in the '50s.

While attending high school in St. Paul, Minnesota, Reed began singing with a girls' quartet formed by her singing teacher, Celeste
Burns. Reed later married a jazz drummer, Joey DeRidder and listened to early Garroway shows and developed a real taste for jazz. When her husband, was killed over Germany during the war, she went back to Iron City still listening attentively and still very much concerned with music and with what musicians could teach her. Then after two years of that exile she was booked into a Milwaukee club then to Duluth.

When Woody Herman's big band played Duluth during 1949, Reed was hired for some of his local gigs -- after that, she was a featured singer on some of Charlie Ventura's Midwestern shows. Based in Chicago in the '50s, Reed was regularly accompanied by bassist Johnny Frigo (who had been with the Soft Winds) and pianist Dick Marx at a club called the Lei Aloha.


In 1951 she was chosen to represent Chicago in the Miss Television contest—she was regarded as a fine prospect by bookers and record people as the beautiful girl who had charmed listeners at the Chicago Streamliner and other local clubs during the early Fifties.

Her taste and musicianship were of such imaginative flexibility that she surpassed a many other nightclub singers more generously gifted by nature. Her skillful phrasing, based on her tender care for lyrics and her subtle beat, made her a singer of quiet distinction. She was noted as a singer who may have possessed too much innate “feel” for lyrics and honesty in delivery ever to have had a hit record, but who nevertheless won many enthusiastic listeners with her records.

Reed didn't do very much recording, although she briefly recorded for Fantasy. Sessions in New York in 1955 and Chicago in 1957 resulted in her debut LP for Fantasy, This Is Lucy Reed. The 1957 session employed Marx and Frigo, while the 1955 date employed the great pianist, Bill Evans -- regrettably, Evans didn't solo at all. Jeri Southern used to name her as her favourite singer.

Both of her vinyl albums are highly priced collectibles. She was a highly acclaimed artist around the Chicago area and never gained the recognition she deserved. Although she performed infrequently, in her prime she played some of the most prestigious clubs and showrooms, including Mister Kelly’s in Chicago and the Village Vanguard in New York.

Like many women in Jazz, Reed ultimately decided to devote most of her energies to her growing family rather than to her career. After her marriage to Serge Seymour in 1957, she often turned down opportunities that might have increased her fame. From here her internet trail goes cold and it’s not until 1988 that her name appears on the web as being a guest artist on the “Jack Hubble Jazz Show.” She then records a great album in the 90s, called "Basic Reeding" (with Herb Ellis and Ray Brown) which again shows her artistry.

Lucy Reed died in her North Side home in Chicago July 1, 1998, aged 77. 

In 2017, Fresh records issued a double CD of all her recordings from 1950 to 1957.

(Edited from Chicago Tribune, Wikipedia, Fresh Sound Records & AllMusic) (Some sources give birth year as 1924)

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Tennessee Ernie Ford born 13 February 1919

Ernest Jennings Ford (February 13, 1919 – October 17, 1991), known professionally as Tennessee Ernie Ford, was an American recording artist and television host who enjoyed success in the country and Western, pop, and gospel musical genres. Noted for
 his rich bass-baritone voice and down-home humor, he is remembered for his hit recordings of "The Shotgun Boogie" and "Sixteen Tons".

As a child, Ford was musically inclined, singing in school choirs and playing trombone in the school band. By 1937, working as an announcer at Bristol’s WOAI, he went on to study at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Following America's entry into World War II with the attack on Pearl Harbour, Ford enlisted in the United States Army in early 1942 and was assigned to the U.S. Army Air Corps, which kept him stateside, serving in Alabama and later in California, where he was posted to a bombardier school. His talent wasn't dormant during this period, and he was able to participate in various special services entertainment programs.

After the war, Ford -- who had married while serving in the military -- moved his family to San Bernardino, CA, and took a DJ job on a local radio station. Pasadena’s KXLA. His comical Tennessee Ernie character (“bless your pea-pickin’ little heart...”) caught the ear of disc jockey-TV host Cliffie Stone, who made Ford a regular cast member of Los Angeles’s Hometown Jamboree country music television and radio shows.

Cliffie Stone, Tennessee Ernie, Nudie Cohn, and Merle Travis

In 1947 he also made the acquaintance of Cliffie Stone, a musician, announcer, and producer who was rapidly becoming one of the most influential figures in country music on the West Coast. Initially, Ford appeared on Stone's Hometown Jamboree, which started on radio and moved to television later in the 1940s, and in 1948 Stone brought him to Capitol Records, the beginning of a relationship that would last for 40 years, covering the rest of the singer's life.

Ford began cutting typically hot California country-boogie and novelty records that were driven as much by his big, warm voice as by the guitar stylings of Merle Travis and the idiosyncratic steel guitar wizardry of Speedy West. Five singles had been released by late 1949, including "Tennessee Border" and "Smokey Mountain Boogie" (both Top Ten) and his first number one single, "Mule Train." He first guested on the Grand Ole Opry in 1950, and in 1953 he became the first country singer to appear at London’s prestigious Palladium. Soon NBC hired him to MC the television game show the Kollege of Musical Knowledge, and also to host his own weekday program.


Ford had two Top Ten country hits in 1955 with "The Ballad of Davy Crockett ,” but it was “Sixteen Tons,” with sales topping four million copies that cemented Ford’s place as one of America’s top
entertainers. Due partly to this hit, Ford Motor Company recruited Ford to host a prime-time NBC variety program, The Ford Show 

(1956–1961). He also made numerous guest appearances on I Love Lucy and other TV shows and became a fixture on television for the next decade (moving to daytime television by 1961).

For all of his occasionally risqué lyrics and humor, Ford also had a seriously religious side to his work and persona, and his voice was ideally suited to big arrangements of traditional hymns. His first gospel album, Hymns (1956), became the first religious album to go gold, while his second gospel album, Great Gospel 
Songs, earned him a Grammy. He was immensely popular as the 1960s commenced and remained a popular fixture on television for most of that decade, and his recordings were as ambitious as they were successful.

Ford remained active through the 1970s with numerous television specials and guest appearances. He participated in a 1973 Hometown Jamboree reunion at Los Angeles’s Palladium and recorded for Capitol until 1977.  

While it never affected his professional work, nor was it ever publicized (for fear of how it would impact his career), Ford battled all his life with a drinking problem, something which ultimately undermined his health. In October, 1991, he collapsed after leaving a White House dinner and died at an area hospital a few days later, exactly one year to the day after being elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

At the time of his death he remained a much-loved figure far beyond the boundaries of the country music audience.  (Edited from Country Music hall of Fame, AllMusic, Wikipedia & IMDb)

Monday, 11 February 2019

Josh White born 11 February 1914

Joshua Daniel White (February 11, 1914 – September 5, 1969) was an American singer, guitarist, songwriter, actor and civil rights activist. He also recorded under the names Pinewood Tom and Tippy Barton in the 1930s.

Josh White had a long career as a Bluesy folk singer on the New York scene during the 50s and 60s, but his roots were in the South-East where the local music was Piedmont Blues. Josh mastered this style of elaborate finger-picking at an early age and his 
instrumental talent stood him in good stead when he turned his attention to different kinds of music in later life.

Born in Greenville SC in 1914, as a child Josh was the ‘lead-boy’ for several local Bluesmen, showing them around town and playing a tambourine which he would use to collect nickels and dimes. His reward was to be shown their guitar tricks, so he could earn some money himself by playing on street corners. These tutors included Willie Walker, Blind Blake and Blind Joe Taggart who recorded as a ‘guitar evangelist‘ for Vocalion in the late 20’s and included Josh on some of his sessions.

He was not the only ‘lead-boy’ to benefit from this kind of apprenticeship; T-Bone Walker and ‘Lightnin’ Hopkins learned invaluable lessons as they led Blind Lemon Jefferson around the street corners over in Texas. When Lemon was across in the Carolinas, Josh was his ‘lead-boy’ too.

With a solid grounding in the expansive, ragtime-influenced local guitar sound and a strong, clear voice, Josh was soon cutting records himself. He recorded a couple of instrumental tracks with The Carver Boys but soon Josh was recording Blues songs under the name ‘Pinewood Tom’ for ARC 
in New York. Many of these Blues tracks had ‘Tom’ playing with pianists Walter Roland, Clarence Williams or Leroy Carr, or ‘second’ guitarist Scrapper Blackwell. ‘Milk Cow Blues’, ‘Silicosis is Killin’ Me’, ‘Welfare Blues’ and ‘Lazy Black Snake’ are Blues songs of the highest quality. At the same time, Josh was recording gospel songs as Joshua White ‘The Singing Christian’, maintaining a discrete distance between Sacred Songs and the Devil’s Music. Both styles were successful and he maintained the twin identities for many years.


In 1936 Josh was settled in New York when a serious hand injury forced him to give up playing. By then he was moving in a supportive and politically aware social group and began working as an actor, appearing with Paul Robeson in ‘John Henry’ and ‘The Man Who Went to War’ on stage, and playing several roles in feature films. 

By 1940 Josh had returned to music and recorded a wide selection
of music for the Library of Congress, took up an invitation to play for President Roosevelt and he toured Mexico for the US State Dept. Along with Lead Belly, Josh had brought blues and folk music from the countryside to New York and beyond, and this led to a broadening of his own musical horizons. There had always been elements of ragtime, ballads and popular music in Piedmont Blues, and Josh realised there was nowhere he could not go in the musical field. He covered Cole Porter’s ‘Miss Otis Regrets’, ‘The House I Live In’, sung more famously by Frank Sinatra, as well as theatrical pieces and contemporary songs. His ‘One Meat-Ball’ sold a million copies.

The ‘protest song’ was also emerging from the politicised intellectual milieu around the nightclub ‘Café Society’, and Josh recorded ‘Freedom Road’ with lyrics by Langston Hughes. He was active in de-segregating audiences and spoke publicly on human rights, which later made Josh a target for McCarthyites who tried to portray him as a communist. Nevertheless, with his good looks and broad musical appeal, Josh was a popular figure on the folk scene as it expanded in the 50’s.

He toured England and Canada and was in constant demand for gigs from coffee-houses to concert halls, and as Festivals became established and TV spread to every home, Josh White became a household name. By the 60’s, he was more of a show-biz personality than a Blues singer, but you can hardly blame him for adapting to changing times.

In 1961, White's health began a sharp decline after he had the first of the three heart attacks and the progressive heart disease that would plague him over his final eight years. As a lifelong smoker he also had progressive emphysema, in addition to ulcers, and severe psoriasis in his hands and calcium deficiency, which caused the skin to peel from his fingers and left his fingernails broken and bleeding after every concert. During the last two years of his life, as his heart weakened dramatically, his wife put him in the hospital for four weeks after he completed each two-week concert tour. Finally, his doctors felt his only survival option was to attempt a new procedure to replace heart valves. The surgery failed.

White died on the operating table on September 5, 1969, at the North Shore Hospital in Manhasset, New York. (Edited from Wikipedia and mainly All About Blues

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Chick Webb born 10 February 1905

William Henry Webb, usually known as Chick Webb (February 10, 1905*–June 16, 1939) was an American jazz and swing music drummer as well as a band leader.

William Henry Webb (Chick Webb) was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1909. Afflicted at birth with spinal tuberculosis which left him in poor health for his entire life, Chick was a small, hunchback of a man who possessed an “unconquerable spirit” and an astounding musical talent. For many jazz fans, Chick remains arguably the greatest jazz drummer to have ever played the instrument. Yet it was only by a quirk of fate that Chick even came to play the drums.

The idea of playing the instrument was suggested to him by his doctor as a way to “loosen up” his stiffened limbs. By saving money earned through delivering papers, Chick soon secured a drum set and by the age of seventeen, was playing in New York nights clubs such as the Black Bottom and the Paddock Club. 

These early jobs were secured for him through the efforts of Duke Ellington who instantly recognized Chick’s talent. It was Ellington who encouraged Chick to form a quintet aptly called the “Harlem Stoppers.” The name was probably derived from Chick’s own hard driving style on the drums as the quintet’s leader. Later, this quintet would evolve into one of the most feared “swing” bands in New York -- The Chick Webb Orchestra.

In 1931, his band became the house band at the Savoy Ballroom. He became one of the best-regarded bandleaders and drummers of the new "swing" style. Drummer Buddy Rich cited Webb's powerful technique and virtuoso performances as heavily influential on his own drumming, and even referred to Webb as "the daddy of them all". Webb was unable to read music, and instead memorized the arrangements played by the band and conducted from a platform in the centre. He used custom-made pedals, goose-neck cymbal holders, a 28-inch bass drum and other percussion instruments.


Although his band was not as influential, it was feared in the battle of the bands. The Savoy often featured "Battle of the Bands" where Webb's band would compete with other top bands, such as the Benny Goodman Orchestra or the Count Basie Orchestra. By theend of the night's battles the dancers seemed always to have voted Webb's band as the best. Webb lost to Duke Ellington in 
Chick Webb - Artie Shaw - Duke Ellington
1937. Although a judge declared Webb's band the official winner in 1938 over Count Basie's, and Basie himself said he was relieved to come away from the contest without embarrassing himself, surviving musicians continued to dispute the ruling for decades.

Chick Webb’s already mythical reputation was given even greater stature when he replaced his long-time vocalist Charles Linton with a then relatively unknown singer by the name of Ella Fitzgerald. Jazz legend has it that Ella “snuck” into Chick Webb’s dressing room in order to convince him to take her into his bed. But legends notwithstanding, Ella did become Chick’s lead vocalist. And Ella, called adoringly by fans and musicians, “The First Lady of Swing,” always acknowledged Chick Webb as her “first and foremost” influence.

Together, Chick and Ella, would electrify the Swing era of jazz with hits such as "A-Tisket a Tasket," which was composed by Ella to cheer Chick up while he was ill. And while this and other great tunes recorded by these artists are well-known, Chick’s early work -- some say his most impressive solos -- was regrettably poorly captured by recording technology ill suited for Chick’s immense talent. But one of Chick’s hit tunes “Stompin’ at the Savoy” gives contemporary jazz fans some hint of the power of Chick Webb and his Orchestra.

In 1938, Chick Webb’s health began to fail him. This was mostly due to Chick’s chronic spinal condition and his insistence that he and his orchestra would only perform at the height of their talents for their fans. Often it was said that Chick played with such power that he was physically exhausted when he left the bandstand. Finally, he had a major operation at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore in 1939. Webb died from spinal tuberculosis on June 16, 1939, in Baltimore. Reportedly his last words were, "I'm sorry, I've got to go." He was 34 years old. Webb was buried in Baltimore County, in Arbutus Memorial Park, in Arbutus, Maryland.

For awhile, Ella Fitzgerald carried on Chick’s tradition when she became one of the first female bandleaders. But soon the orchestra became too much for Ella to handle. Finally, the band went under. But not after it left a jazz legacy that has been recognized by such jazz greats as Buddy Rich, Louis Bellson, Art Blakely, and Duke Ellington.

(Edited from Wikipedia and a Bio by Amin Sharif)
(* some sources state birth year as 1909)