Tuesday, 7 April 2015

There's no damn business like show business

"If I'm going to sing like someone else, then I don't need to sing at all."

"You've got to have something to eat and a little love in your life before you can hold still for any-damn-body's sermon on how to behave."

"There's no damn business like show business - you have to smile to keep from throwing up."

"You can be up to your boobies in white satin, with gardenias in your hair and no sugar cane for miles, but you can still be working on a plantation.”

"I hate straight singing. I have to change a tune to my own way of doing it. That's all I know."

It is the centenary of the birth of Billie Holiday today.

Here is "Lady Day" herself, live, on Art Ford's Jazz Party in 1958:

  • As a child she ran errands for the girls in a local brothel in return for the privilege of listening to recordings by Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith.
  • She chose the stage name "Billie" after her favourite actress Billie Dove.
  • Her most famous/notorious anthem was Strange Fruit, described as the "first (black) protest song", which described the horror of lynchings of black people in the USA; it was in fact written by a a white Jewish schoolteacher from New York City, Abel Meeropol.
  • She was first arrested on drugs charges in 1947, and on her deathbed in 1959 was again under arrest for possession of narcotics.
  • Billie claimed to have never read her autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues (it was mainly ghost-written by William Dufty).
Billie Holiday (born Eleanora Fagan, 7th April 1915 – 17th July 1959)


  1. Hello Jon,

    What a voice!

    Some people have natural star quality and Billie Holiday was surely one of those. Such a pity when the talent is combined with a fragile personality.

    1. There was no-one else, ever, who could do what Billie did with a song. Unfortunately, there was also no-one to rival how much she could drink and imbibe hard drugs... Jx

  2. Why don't you..... decorate your vanity with a fresh pineapple?


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