Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Jazz singer Billie Haywood 11/10/03-7/4/79)  introduced this Great American Songbook standard in "New Faces of 1936"; Billie Holiday is believed to've named herself, partially, after Haywood; and when the singer and her husband pianist Cliff Allen appeared at Hollywood's popular Bocage in the late forties, they became just about the hottest act in town. They also performed at such SoCal venues as Billy Berg's, Swanee Inn and the Streets of Paris, and NY's Blue Angel, Spivy's Roof, Le Ruban Bleu and Village Vanguard. Not bad for a duo that had started out nearly two decades earlier in a Harlem dive called The Coal Bin. Which was just that. . .a converted coal bin.

Alas, on 5/19/48, Allen got hit by a car and died. Thus---natch---putting an end to the act as a duo. After Allen's death, his partner seldom performed again. She would eventually become Mae West's maid. Probably not a bad gig; still. . ..

A 1975 issue of the Daily Pennyslvanian deemed the 1973 Haywood docu "I'm the Prettiest Piece in Greece" "A strange and moving comment on fame and oblivion." That seems to sum it all up quite succinctly. During seventeen years of "live" performance, Haywood and Allen managed to cut only three record tracks. . . in the mid-'40s. This is one of them. Pardon the lousy sound; WWII low-grade shellac is at least partially to blame. Not to mention lousy ("use once only") needles.

No comments: