Friday, 30 June 2017

Larry Hall born 30 June 1940

Larry Hall (born Lawrence Kendall Hall; June 30, 1940 – September 24, 1997) was an American singer mostly known for his one-hit wonder song called "Sandy" in 1959. The disc reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. 

Hall was born in Hamlett, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio to Woodrow Burney Hall and Toto Sophia Sizemore Hall. He attended Rancho Alamitos High School, Garden Grove California in the late 50's. 

Hall first attracted attention as a teen when he won a local talent contest sponsored by country music legend Cliffie Stone. Soon after, he was approached by songwriter Terry Fell (the author of the country classic "Truck Driving Man") with the offer to cut a single for Fell's fledgling Hot Records label.  

Fell paid Hall all of 50 dollars to record "Sandy," recording the track on hand-me-down equipment acquired from legendary guitarist Les Paul. Hall and his mother drove to record stations across the U.S., imploring programming directors to add the single to their radio playlists, but it did not catch fire until the New York City-based Strand label licensed the song for national distribution, purchasing Hall's contract in the process.
The re-released "Sandy" hit radio in the fall of 1959, peaking at number 15 the week ending January 4, 1960. The follow-up "Rosemary" earned little attention, and is arguably more notable for its flip side, "A Girl Like You," an early effort from composer Burt Bacharach. 

Hall appeared on the favourite dance show, American Band Stand in late 1959 and was seen out with a variety of female singers.

Strand spared no expense in its attempts to galvanize Hall's career, hiring famed producer Jimmie Haskell to helm the majority of the singer's lone LP, Sandy and Other Larry Hall Hits, but he never again returned to the charts, cutting a handful of additional singles for Gold Leaf before exiting show business for good.  

He married Sharon Lee Hattensty in 1961 and moved to Pedee Oregon in 1967. They later divorced. They had three children, Jennifer, Toto, and Larry Jnr. 

He became involved with Barbara Gambetti after his divorce and they had a son, Jesse born in 1977. He and his family lived in Pedee, Oregon, as a gentleman farmer of a 120-acre (0.49 km2) ranch called the Circle H Ranch for the remainder of his life. 

He also sang for the rest of his life, joined by his brother Gene at various night clubs in the Willamette Valley and on the Oregon coast, and was often noted in the 'Magpie', a local musical news tabloid published in Salem, Oregon.  

Hall continued to sing and play guitar until his death from cancer on September 24, 1997. He died in Oregon at the age of 57.  (Info edited from Wikipedia & All Music)

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Frank Loesser born 29 June 1910

Frank Henry Loesser (June 29, 1910 – July 28, 1969) was an American songwriter who wrote numerous songs for films and Tin Pan Alley, many of which have become standards, and was nominated for five Academy Awards for best song, winning once, for "Baby, It's Cold Outside".
A respected Broadway name due to his Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, a composer who wrote half a dozen wartime songs including "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition," a Hollywood lyric-writer for several 1940s films -- it appears that Frank Loesser had several careers packed into his one life.  

Born into a musical family in New York City in 1910, Loesser refused formal training, however, deciding instead to learn by himself while at the piano. Never serious about a show-business career, he dropped out of college to work at a series of jobs including office boy, reporter, inspector, advertising salesman and part-time vaudevillian. After selling one song to a fellow performer, he earned a job as a lyric-writer in Tin Pan Alley, and first published in 1931. Though Fats Waller recorded another of his early-'30s compositions, "I Wish I Were Twins," Loesser was unsuccessful and had to augment his income by singing at a 52nd St. nightspot.  

In 1936, Frank Loesser decided that he could make his fortune in Hollywood; after signing a contract with Universal, he was released less than a year later, but found success soon after with "The Moon of Manakoora," sung by Dorothy Lamour in 1937's The Hurricane. Several moderate film hits followed during the late '30s and early '40s ("I Fall in Love with You Every Day," "The Boys in the Back Room," "Kiss the Boys Goodbye"), all composed with a variety of musical collaborators.  

Loesser's transition into true popular success came in 1942, just after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Writing a song around an overheard comment and composing a few notes of music to aid in the lyrical flow, Loesser came up with "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition." After being published in 1942, the song sold several million copies (including copies of sheet music) during the war years, with hit versions recorded by Kay Kyser and Merry Macs. Loesser later joined the military, and continued to to compose more service-related songs, including "First Class Mary Brown," "The WAC Hymn," "What Do You Do in the Infantry?" and "Salute to the Army Air Force."

In 1947 famed tunesmith Loesser made a rare performing appearance on this MGM release of his own novelty tune “Bloop Bleep.”
At the end of World War II, Loesser continued to write in Hollywood (earning an Academy award in 1949 for "Baby It's Cold Outside" from Neptune's Daughter), but he also returned to Broadway, composing the score to 1948's Where's Charley? as a dry run for his biggest success, 1950's Guys and Dolls. The musical ran for over 1,200 performances, was continually revived on and off-Broadway, and became a feature film in 1955 starring Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando.  

The Most Happy Fella followed in 1956, and was the first for which Loesser composed the libretto as well as the score. It was a moderate success, as was 1960's Greenwillow. Loesser's second triumphant production came in 1961, when How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying captured a Pulitzer Prize, a Tony, and Drama Critics Circle award for best musical of the season. Loesser's last production (Pleasures and Palaces) was a failure, but the 1967 film version of How to Succeed in Business was enough to make most forget.  

At the time of his death, Loesser was writing the book, music and lyrics for Señor Discretion Himself, a musical version of the Budd Schulberg short story. A version was presented in 1985 at the New York Musical Theatre Works. With the support of Jo Loesser, a completed version was presented at the Arena Stage, Washington, DC, in 2004, reworked by the group Culture Clash and director Charles Randolph-Wright.

When he was asked why he did not write more shows, Loesser responded that "I don’t write slowly, it’s just that I throw out fast." The New York Times confirmed his hard working habits and wrote that Loesser "was consumed by nervous energy and as a result slept only four hours a night, spending the rest of the time working."

Loesser, an avid smoker, died in 1969 of lung cancer at age 59 in New York City. 

(Info edited from John Bush @ All Music & Wikipedia)

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Virginia Lee born 27 June 1927

Virginia Lee (June 27, 1927 - January 6, 1990) was a South African singer of light music.  She was especially famous for hits like Goodbye my love (her biggest hit), I'll Never Forget You and You're My Sweetheart. South Africa's Singing Sweetheart, The Girl with the Golden Voice, South Africa's Queen of Song, South Africa’s female Jim Reeves and South Africa's First Lady of Song. These were titles bestowed on Virginia Lee. 

"Ginny" as she was affectionately known, was South Africa's best selling female recording artist of the late Fifties, Sixties and early Seventies. She was the first South African female vocalist to receive a gold disc, for the equivalent of a million sales for her hit "Goodbye My Love". She followed that up with a second gold disc only seven months later for "Darling It’s Wonderful".  

Virginia Lee was born on June 27, 1927 in Port Elizabeth and grew up there. She did her schooling at North End Grey, Port Elizabeth and the famous Victoria Girls High, Grahamstown. At school she took a keen interest in athletics and excelled in swimming and diving.  

She married Johnny Lee in 1948. In 1949, her only daughter, Peggy (later Koopman), was born. After nine years, she and Johnny divorced. In 1987 she married Lea Bergman. In 1957 she made her record debut under the guidance of Dan Hill. Several performances, tours, records and awards followed. She recorded a duet with Slim Whitman “She Taught Me How To Yodel”. 
She was the first female South African singer to be awarded a Gold Plate.  It was awarded to her on December 15, 1965 for the equivalent of one million sales for her hit Goodbye My Love.  She was the first artist to get the distinction to release a locally produced album overseas.  Goodbye My Love is released under the PYE label in England, Holland and Germany with a pre-order of 100 000 copies. 

In 1969, Virginia travelled through Zambia and was incredibly successful.  Her song, Telephone To Glory, was a top hit). In 1970 she founded her own record company, Dominant Records.  Hampered by  years of cheap productions, she flew to London at her own expense for her first recording session at London's EMI Abbey Road studios.  For this occasion she had a full orchestra.  

Virginia has travelled through Rhodesia several times with the "Virginia Lee Show" and was also a regular guest on television there.  Her own record label, despite good quality and multiple entries on hit lists (Two White Duifies / A Brand New Day), did not go as well as hoped and became a financial burden.  She dissolved the label, signed a contract with EMI in 1972 and undertook a national tour with Nico Carstens. 

In 1974 she played in an English film Cry me a Teardrop with Wena Naude. By the end of her career, Virginia could sing in over 16 languages.  She crossed artists like Caterina Valente and Connie Francis, who each sang in 11 languages.In 1987, Virginia was diagnosed breast cancer, but it was too late for treatment. She then withdrew from society and on January 7, 1990 died in Johannesburg at the age of 63 years.

 Virginia holds the South African music industry's record for the South African artist with the most recorded songs. She had over 800 songs recorded. Including 45 LPs , 75 'singles', and even an old 78 rpm record on the Welcome label called “Tien Duisend Myl” (Ten Thousand Miles).

(Info mainly from & translated Wikipedia)

Monday, 26 June 2017

Vicki Young born 26 June 1925

Vicki Young (26, June 1925 – 5,January 2007) was an American R&B, rock 'n roll and pop singer and songwriter. 

Vicki Young was born Wanda Cleo Stegall on June 26, 1925, in Vinson, Oklahoma, the first of four talented children born to Loda and Mintie Stegall. Descended from an early American family dating back to 1736, the Stegall family had a long history of birthing "Methodist preachers or musicians." In Vicki's case, her parents were musicians and had one of the first professionally performing family western style bands, "The Stegalls."  

By the time she was four, little Wanda was singing and already playing the banjo, ukulele and drums. For seven years, the youngster and her family band could be heard live over station KASA (AM 1210) in Elk City, Oklahoma.  

In 1942, the Stegall Family moved to San Bernardino, California, where the band reorganized. Vicki decided to head out on her own in 1948. She joined the Joe Newman Trio, appeared in Los Angeles clubs and for a brief period was featured on Spade Cooley’s T.V. show. Young was discovered at The Flamingo in San Bernardino, and in 1953, at age 28, was signed was signed as an R&B artist by Capitol Records.  

During her eight year career at Capitol Records, Young cut 56 sides, including such titles as "Honey Love," "Pink Shampoo," "Tweedle Dee," "Ricochet" and "Riot in Cell Block No. 9." Vicki Young made the best-selling pop charts twice, with "I Love You So Much" (b/w "Let Me Hear You Say It," Capitol 2478) which charted in June 1953, and her cover of The Drifters' R&B tune "Honey Love" (b/w a cover of The Robins' R&B tune "Riot In Cell Block No. 9," Capitol 2865) in October 1954.  

After Capitol, Vicki was one of the first artists under the Brunswick label in the mid 50’s, along with the Lennon Sisters; her first release for Brunswick was "The Cheer Leader Flip" and "Pen and Paper Sweetheart."  

Vicki Young also wrote songs, and "Let There Be You," penned with arranger/band leader Dave Cavanaugh, remained one of her personal favourites, written just two weeks after the tragic death of her first son, Gary Phillip Truckee (age 6) to polio. The heart wrenching lyrics were based on the first verse of the Bible and the song went on to be covered by The Five Keys (Capitol 3660) and remains in circulation today.  

Young was married four times, her second husband being world renowned drummer and "Rock and Roll Hall of Famer" Hal Blaine.

Vicki had three sons, two by her first husband and one by her third. Tragically, she lost a second son, Terrence Allen Sheehan, at Christmas time when he was struck by a car. Consumed by grief, Ms. Young left the music business in the late 50’s although she retained her love of music.  

During her career, Young toured extensively, performed regularly for the military and was well known for her tireless enthusiasm, vivacious personality and was regarded as one of the finest entertainers of her time. She and her family leave a tremendous musical legacy behind, which continues with her niece, singer/songwriter Casey (Stegall) Stark, of Laguna Niguel, California, and distant cousin, award-winning producer/singer-songwriter Keith Stegall, of Nashville, Tennessee. 

Vicki Young died of complications from infection at La Mirada Kindred Hospital, California on January 5, 2007 aged 81.  (Info edited from original article by Casey Stegall) 

N.B. There is very scant information regarding Vicki Young, who remains virtually unknown to most music lovers. Hopefully my little blog post will highlight this under-rated singer who hasn’t even got a mention in Wikipedia!.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Arthur Tracy born 25 June 1899

Arthur Tracy (25 June 1899 – 5 October 1997) was an American vocalist, billed as The Street Singer. His performances in theatre, films and radio, along with his recordings, brought him international fame in the 1930s. Late evening radio listeners tuned in to hear announcer David Ross' introduction ("Round the corner and down your way comes The Street Singer") and Tracy's familiar theme song, "Marta, Rambling Rose of the Wildwood."
He was one of the most famous of all recording stars of the 1930s and '40s. With his suave style and sentimental ballads he captured the hearts of housewives in both America and Great Britain. His voice was both a baritone and a tenor, which he described as "bari-tenor", and he claimed that the biggest influence on his singing was Enrico Caruso.
He was born Abraham Tratserofski, in 1900, in Ukraine, and at the age of six was taken to the United States with his parents - the name Tracy was bestowed upon the family by immigration officers. He received an elementary education and, without any formal theatrical or musical training, produced and acted in school plays in his early teens.
His leaning towards show business took him into the Yiddish Theatre, as Yiddish was his first language. After winning a singing competition in Philadelphia, he was engaged by the eminent producers the Shubert brothers and played the leading roles in the operettas Blossom Time and The Student Prince. After touring the US and Canada, he returned to the Yiddish Theatre under the direction of Boris Thomashevski (the grandfather of the conductor Michael Tilson Thomas). He later worked as a solo artist in vaudeville but would return to his first love, the Yiddish Theatre, from time to time.


In 1931 Tracy was offered a recording contract with Columbia Records, for whom his output was prolific. His signature tune, which he used until the end of his career, was a romantic ballad called "Marta, Rambling Rose of the Wild Wood". When radio beckoned, he felt that he would benefit from a little mystery in his professional persona and adopted the name of "The Street Singer". However, a play of the same name by the British playwright Frederick Lonsdale was being presented on Broadway at that time, and so he titled himself "The Street Singer of the Radio" to avoid confusion (later abandoning the final three words).
He enjoyed great success on radio and soon returned to vaudeville, but this time as a headliner. He also appeared in Hollywood films, notably in The Big Broadcast (1932) with Bing Crosby.
Tracy came to Britain in 1932 to fulfil an engagement as top of the bill at the London Palladium. Instant success brought him bookings throughout Britain, starring at all the principal variety houses. Radio Luxembourg soon called for his services and he was engaged to do many series of programmes, notably commercials for a ladies' cosmetic product, "Tokalon Face Powder". He was a smooth talker and a natty dresser and soon became one of the smart set, enjoying a friendship with the Prince of Wales. He stayed in Britain, continuing his radio and music-hall career, and made four films, including Limelight (1936), with Anna Neagle as his leading lady, The Street Singer (1937), with Margaret Lockwood, and Follow Your Star (1938), with Lilli Palmer, which were very successful.
He returned to the US in 1940, continuing his career until his age and the emergence of the rock 'n' roll era made his particular image unfashionable. Nevertheless, his records still sell in great numbers today and his fan clubs in Britain and the US still kept in touch with him at his Manhattan West Side apartment, a veritable museum of posters, sheet music, records, tapes and press material. In 1996 he was presented with a gold CD to mark the extraordinary sales of his work over 60 years; he was the oldest star to receive such acclaim.

He visited Britain in the spring of 1995, making a live broadcast on Radio 2 on the John Dunn show. It transpired that the news of his broadcast had been announced a day earlier and there was a crowd of his fans waiting for him, requesting autographs, taking photographs and cine films.

His English recording manager visited him and said: "Arthur, you're going to make it to 100 and when you do we will make a special album to commemorate the event." It was not to be. Tracy had been living quietly in a luxurious apartment on New York City's West Fifty-Seventh Street when he died from a heart attack at the age of 98.
(Info various, mainly edited from an obit in the  Independent by Bernard Mendelovitch)
Here's a clip from 1957 

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Connie Hall born 24 June 1929

Connie Hall (b. June 24, 1929 in Walden, Kentucky) is an American country music singer, who had brief success as a country music artist in the late 1950s and 1960s. She is also a songwriter. 

Connie Hall had a brief career as a country music artist in the late 1950s and 1960s. This was helped by her two hits "Fool Me Once" and "It's Not Wrong". Hall was born in Walden, Kentucky, but she grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. She started singing and performing as a teenager. At age 21, Hall worked at the Jimmie Skinner Music Center in Ohio. She soon got a spot on a radio show, on "WZIP" in Covington, Kentucky, the birthplace of popular 1960s Country singer Skeeter Davis. It was In 1954, that Jimmie Skinner hired Hall to sing on his radio show at "WNOP" in Newport, Kentucky, and Hall soon accepted. She appeared on his show and others regularly for several years and also worked as a weather girl on Jimmy Skinner's television show. 

In 1957, Connie Hall signed a recording contract with Mercury Records. Her recording debut came that same year. The debut single was a duet with Jimmie Skinner called "We've Got Things In Common". The song was very successful, climbing to Top 10 in Billboard. She released her first single as a solo artist in 1958, with the song "I'm the Girl In the USA". Once again, her single climbed onto the charts.
The following year, 1959, proved to be more successful than the previous two years. The single she released that year called "The Bottle or Me" peaked in the Country Top 40, and came close to making the Top 20. In 1960, Hall signed on with Decca Records (which would become the future home of Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn). Her producer Harry Silverstein promised Connie would have a hit. With his help, she soon achieved one.

He produced Hall's first two singles, which were released on a back-to-back single. The A-side of the single was the song "There's Poison In Your Hand". The A-side made it all the way to the Country Top 25 in 1960. Its B-side "It's Not Wrong" (which was an answer song to the 1958 Warner Mack hit "Is it Wrong (For Loving You)?"), became Hall's biggest hit. The song reached the Country Top 20, meaning Connie Hall finally achieved an official hit song. 

For three more years, Hall remained under Decca Records, making seven more respectable hits, like "Sleep, Baby Sleep" and "Fool Me Once". Also during this time, she performed on the Grand Ole Opry, Louisiana Hayride, and Midwestern Hayride. 

In 1964, Hall left Decca Records and switched to Musicor Records, where she remained until 1967. Married in 1950, Hall continued to reside in Independence, Kentucky, until 1970, when she and her husband moved to the Louisville area, where she resides today. (Info Wikipedia)

Friday, 23 June 2017

Dave King born 23 June 1929

Dave King (23 June 1929 – 15 April 2002) had one of the most remarkable careers in show business. Quite apart from his brief, but enviable, chart career with pop records, he was a successful comedian in both the UK and the USA, and subsequently a brilliant and much sought after serious actor. 

Born David Kingshott in Twickenham, Middlesex, England, King left school at 12 and joined the Morton Fraser Harmonica Gang at 15. He did his National Service in the RAF and was in the unit's repertory company, returning to variety on demob and later becoming a solo act. An appearance on Television Music Hall led to compeering Show Case and being given a monthly series on the BBC in 1955.  

The next year he turned to singing while continuing to perform on television. During the seaside summer season of 1956 he performed at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool. He starred in "The Dave King Show". During the 1950s he also starred in the same show alongside Shani Wallis. In 1958 King moved to ITV with The Dave King Show which was song, dance and comedy with famous guests of the day. 
As King was fond of impersonating Bing Crosby, it made sense that he should follow this route by making records. His first record, "Sweet Kentucky Rose", for Parlophone, in 1955 did not sell but a move to Decca resulted in his achieving several chart entries. King scored four hits on the UK Singles Chart in the middle of the 1950s. His biggest hits were "Memories Are Made of This" (No. 5, 1956) and "You Can't Be True to Two" (No. 11, 1956), both of which featured a backing group called the Keynotes. He also charted with "Christmas and You" (No. 23, 1956) and "The Story of My Life" (No. 20, 1958). He appeared on Decca Records' All Star Hit Parade charity record in 1956 along with other major Decca artists Dickie Valentine, Joan Regan, Winifred Atwell, Lita Roza and David Whitfield.

In 1959, he went to the United States and hosted the country's high-profile Kraft Music Hall on 19 occasions, but otherwise had limited success despite Mel Brooks joining his regular writers Sid Green and Dick Hills. He appeared on television with Bing Crosby in 1961 and then had a small role in his film The Road to Hong Kong. On returning to the United Kingdom, he found that the public's taste in comedy had changed. Dave's Kingdom ran on ITV in 1964, again made by ATV, but was less successful than King's earlier TV work. 

King became a straight actor with some success, starring in the films Pirates of Tortuga (1961), Go to Blazes (1962), Strange Bedfellows (1965), Up the Chastity Belt (1971), The Ritz (1976), The Golden Lady (1979), Cuba (1979), The Long Good Friday (1980), Warren Beatty's Reds (1981) and Revolution (1985). He also appeared in a number of TV series including The Sweeney (episode: "Pay Off", 1976), Hazell (1978), Pennies From Heaven (1978), The Professionals (episode: "Hijack", 1980), Rumpole of the Bailey (episode "Rumpole and the Blind Tasting" 1987) and Coronation Street (1994–95). He also appeared in a stage version of Arsenic and Old Lace, playing Mortimer Brewster. 

He married a dancer, Jean Hart, and they had two daughters, Cheyenne and Kiowa. They lived in South Cerney in Gloucestershire. His hobbies included model railways and American folklore. King died after a short illness in London on 15 April 2002, aged 72.  

(Info various mainly Wikipedia)

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Ella Johnson born 22 June 1923

Ella Johnson (June 22, 1919 – February 16, 2004) was an American jazz and rhythm and blues vocalist who spent her entire professional career of almost two decades as a featured singer with the orchestra led by her brother Buddy.  Her singing drew comparisons to Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. Her sweet, soulful voice features on many of the band's finest recordings. 

While some sources list her birth year as 1923, most cite 1917. Like her older brother Buddy, Ella had an early interest in music. By 1939, Buddy, who had left South Carolina for New York City, had made his first record for Decca, a major label that handled popular artists of the 1930s and 1940s including Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, and the Andrews Sisters. Buddy's first single, "Stop Pretending (So Hep You See)," was a success. While still a teenager, Ella followed her brother's footsteps to New York City, where Buddy immediately found a place for her in his band, which also included singers Arthur Prysock, Nolan Lewis, and Floyd Ryland. 

Buddy Johnson and His Orchestra became a mainstay act in New York City, where they regularly performed at Harlem's Savoy Ballroom, and they also became a popular national touring band. Ella earned praise for her ability to sing uptempo, jazzy blues tunes called "jump blues" as well as luscious ballads. In 1940 she recorded her first hit single with "Please, Mr. Johnson," a song written by Buddy. With this hit, Ella stood out among the numerous female vocalists of the era. 


For the rest of the 1940s, and into the 1950s, the Johnsons were a leading act in black music. The orchestra was popular not only in New York, where it caught the ear of dancers at the Savoy ballroom with its enticing walk 'em rhythm, but up and down the east coast and across the south, winning a trade award in 1949 as Kings of the One-Nighter Circuit.

Ella's contribution to its success can be gauged by its hit-list: several of the band's most popular numbers were vocal features for her, such as When My Man Comes Home (No 1 in the R&B chart in 1944) and That's The Stuff You Gotta Watch (No 2 in 1945). She also gave a gorgeous reading of Buddy's song Since I Fell For You, now a standard.
Like many black bandleaders, Buddy Johnson was threatened by rock'n'roll in the mid-1950s, but he had a rare skill of adapting to changing styles and made a number of rock'n'roll-oriented recordings that were quite well received at the time and are not embarrassing today. Ella showed some of the same versatility, and had a further chart entry in 1956 with I Don't Want Nobody. It was their nonstop touring, however, that kept the band fresh. 

By the 1960s, the era of the big band became over-shadowed by the popularity of rock and roll, and the Johnsons could no longer book shows on the dance-hall circuit because that venue was disappearing. Buddy broke up the band, and with this move Ella's singing career effectively ended. Many have speculated why Ella Johnson never achieved the celebrity status of other female singers of her time period. Some critics have felt that she may not have had the confidence to perform without Buddy.  

In the 1960s, Ella Johnson retired from music to take care of Buddy, who was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia. After Buddy died in 1977, Ella lost a legal battle over her brother's copyrighted material and gained very little from his estate. And a short time later, her only son became the victim of murder.  

Admirers tried to persuade Ella to make a comeback, at least on record, but, as the R&B historian Peter Grendysa wrote in 1978, "the changes that have come about in studio techniques since her last session are bewildering to her, especially without Buddy's reassuring presence and direction".  

Ella never did return to the studio, and, by the mid-1980s, researchers who visited her Harlem apartment found her memory failing. Ella's condition declined in her later years as her memory lapsed. Despite fading from the public eye, her work was not forgotten. In 1992 the Rhythm & Blues Foundation honored Ella with a Pioneer Award and $15,000, in recognition of her singing career during the 1940s.

Ella Johnson died in New York of Alzheimer's in February, 2004; she was 84 years old.

 (Info edited from Gale musician profiles & The Guardian)