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Billie Holiday


1915

Eleanora Fagan Gough, a.k.a. Billie Holiday, is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1933

Billie Holiday makes her first recordings.

1933

Billie Holiday’s first commercial recording session, with bandleader Benny Goodman, is organized by John Hammond, who has brought her to Columbia Records.

1935

Billie Holiday records with jazz pianist Teddy Wilson and his orchestra, with whom she’ll cut some of her most memorable sides.

1937

Tenor sax player Lester “Prez” Young and trumpeter Buck Clayton play with Billie Holiday as part of Wilson’s orchestra. It is Young who later bestows the nickname “Lady Day” upon Holiday.

1937

Billie Holiday teams with the Count Basie Orchestra.

1939

Billie Holiday is among the first artists to perform at Cafe Society, a new jazz club in Manhattan. Two classic songs introduced in this propitious year, “Strange Fruit” and “God Bless the Child,” remain her masterworks.

1944

Billie Holiday signs with Decca Records, for whom she records “Easy Living,” “Crazy He Calls Me,” “Them There Eyes,” and others.

1945

The only single of Billie Holiday’s ever to chart, “Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be), enters Billboard’s R&B chart, rising to #5.

1957

Joined by Lester “Prez” Young and other jazz legends, Billie Holiday sings “Fine and Mellow” on the historic The Sound of Jazz telecast.

1958

Returning to Columbia, Billie Holiday records the memorable Lady in Satin album with the Ray Ellis Orchestra.

1959

Billie Holiday gives her final performance in New York City.

1959

Billie Holiday dies in New York City from complications brought on by alcoholism and heroin addiction.

1972

The biographical film Lady Sings the Blues, based on Billie Holiday’s autobiography, renews interest in her life and work. Diana Ross stars as Holiday.

2000

Billie Holiday is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the fifteenth annual induction dinner. Diana Ross is her presenter.

Billie Holiday