Anita O’Day RIP

US jazz star Anita O’Day has died at the age of 87. The singer, who rose to prominence in the forties and fifties, passed away in her sleep from a cardiac arrest. She was at the time in a convalescent hospital, recovering from a bout of pneumonia. She was widely regarded to be the last surviving ‘great’ of what is considered the golden age of jazz, contemporaries including the likes of Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan
having predeceased her.

Born in Chicago in 1919, O’Day had no formal training, but began her singing career during her teens, first coming to national attention when she sang hit track ‘Let Me Off Uptown’ with the Gene Krupa band. She was well known for her versions of songs such as ‘Honeysuckle Rose’ and ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’, and was notorious for her refusal to wear evening gowns in the manner of fellow female singers, instead wearing a band jacket and skirt.

Later in her career, she succumbed to alcohol and drug addictions, and was dubbed the ‘jezebel of jazz’ because of her occasional related arrests.

1 reply on “Anita O’Day RIP”

She, came into Birds on Franklin in Hollywood about ten years ago. I had taken to drinking my lunch there with a fellow (upscale) bar fly named Tom Brown who used to run a jazz station in San Francisco I think it was. They got to talking – she catching his eye – or perking up his ears – when she ordered a Smirnoff Martini in a decidely Kettle One or Absolut environ. They got to talking. “What do you do?”, etc. “I just got off the road with a band.” “Are you a manager?” “I’m sorry, what was the name?” “Well, I’ll be darned!” (or somethng to that effect).

Turns out he had interviewed her back in the day. Small, world, huh? I had just shown him a (vinyl) copy of one of her albums I had picked up as a present for my Dad.

R.I.P. and cheers, Anita and Tom,

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