era ends. Peggy Lee - 1920 - 2002
legend Miss Peggy Lee, 81, passed away at her Bel Air home on Monday,
January 21, 2002. Her daughter, Nicki Lee Foster, was by her side.
The cause of death has preliminarily been determined as a myocardial
infarction, a result of the stroke she suffered three years ago.
In addition to her daughter,
Miss Lee is survived by her grandchildren David Foster, Holly Foster-Wells,
and Michael Foster; and her great-grandchildren Teagan Foster, Caleb
Foster and Carter W Lee,
Peggy (born Norma Deloris Egstrom, 26 May 1920, Jamestown, North Dakota)
╩ Singer; one of the most perennially popular of her generation; also
songwriter and actress. Beaten by a stepmother for eleven years, instead
of becoming abusive herself she became non-violent. Sang in North
Dakota, on West Coast; joined Benny Goodman (1941) after gig with
vocal trio at Chicago hotel; hits with Goodman began with "I Got It
Bad and That Ain't Good" (1942, from Duke Ellington show "Jump For
Joy"), followed by "Blues in the Night" (with sextet), "Somebody Else
Is Taking My Place" (number 1), "The Way You Look Tonight" (all 1942);
number 4 (1943) with "Why Don't You Do Right?" (they performed it
in film "Stage Door Canteen," 1943). Left Goodman, married guitarist
Dave Barbour (1943, divorced 1952; he was an alcoholic and they remained
close until he died).
She retired but could
not stay away: Inveigled by Capitol's Dave Dexter to sing two sides
in a album of jazz 78s (unusual then) it was clear that she was a
great interpreter; she played a character as she sang and made you
believe it. With Capitol (1945-52), Decca (1952-57), back to Capitol
(1957-72); had more than 40 hit singles through 1959 and came back
to top 40 ten years later.
She and Barbour wrote
"It's A Good Day" (number 16, 1947) and "MaŁana" (number 1, 1948),
others; he led the orchestra on the latter and many others. Top ten
hits: "Waitin' for the Train to Come In" (1945), "I Don't Know Enough
About You" (1946), "Golden Earrings" (1947), "The Old Master Painter"
(1950, duet with Mel Torm¸). When she wanted to record "Lover" (1952)
in Gordon Jenkins's swirling impressionistic arrangement Capitol didn't
go for it, so she switched to Decca and the record remains a pop landmark.
She had been reunited with Goodman on "For Every Man There's A Woman"
(1948), duetted with Bing Crosby on "Watermelon Weather" (1952). Decca
10" LP "Black Coffee" was a classic, with Jimmy Rowles and Pete Candoli
in the band (the latter as "Cootie Chesterfield"), later had tracks
added to make a 12" LP on Decca.
She appeared on film "Mr.
Music" (1950) with Crosby; her portrayal of a complete breakdown in
film "Pete Kelly's Blues" (1955) was nominated for an Oscar; she appeared
in "The Jazz Singer" (1953, remake of 1927 Al Jolson film); she contributed
to the score and was heard in the sound track of Disney cartoon feature
"Lady and the Tramp" (1955) and won a settlement from Disney when
they reissued her work on video without offering more money. "Mr.
Wonderful" (1956) was a top 20 hit on Decca, then back on Capitol
(1958) for top ten "Fever;" her smoky yet cool, laid-back sexuality
had something teasingly neurotic about it, vulnerable but also untouchable
in the end; a comparison of her "Fever" with the original by Little
Willie John is revealing.
She continued to write,
with Quincy Jones ("New York City Blues"), Cy Coleman ("Then Was Then"),
Ellington ("I'm Gonna' Go Fishin'"), others.
Perhaps she was inveigled
back to Capitol to make "The Man I Love" (1957) with Frank Sinatra
conducting (top 20 LP); further notable albums were "Jump for Joy"
(1956) with Nelson Riddle; "Beauty and the Beat" (1959) with George
Shearing; "Blues Cross Country" and "If You Go" with Jones (1961);
"Sugar 'N ' Spice" and "Mink Jazz" (1961-62) with Benny Carter; she
recorded all through the 1960s for Capitol including albums with Billy
May (1960), Shorty Rogers (1967), Benny Golson (1970). Her top 40
hit (1969) was written by Leiber and Stoller; "Is That All There Is"
might be a depressing song about the onset of disappointment, or might
not: Her classy ambivalence could be interpreted as saying, "Yes that's
all, but maybe it hasn't been so bad."
There were only three
albums in the 1970s [sic ╩ Lee released a total of nine original albums
between 1970-79]: "Mirrors" (1975) on A&M was an elaborate set with
90 musicians, nine [sic ╩ ten] songs by Leiber and Stoller including
"Ready to Begin Again," but soon disappeared without a trace; "Let's
Love" (1974) on Atlantic had a title track written and produced by
Paul McCartney, but that too soon vanished; "Close Enough for Love"
(1979) on DRG had an orchestra arranged and conducted by Dick Hazard.
To the relief of fans all over the world she returned with "Peggy
Sings the Blues" (1988) and "There'll Be Another Spring" on MusicMasters,
and "Moments Like This" on Chesky, all with Mike Renzi; and "Love
Held Lightly: Rare Songs by Harold Arlen" on Angel with the Keith
Ingham Octet. In a wheelchair, 1994, she sold out London's Royal Festival
Hall with the Brandenburg Symphony Orchestra.
All information herein
from the Peggy Lee Website http://www.peggylee.com/
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