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Monday, 20 February 2017

Ibrahim Ferrer born 20 February 1927

 

Ibrahim Ferrer (February 20, 1927 – August 6, 2005) was a popular Afro-Cuban singer and musician in Cuba. He performed with many musical groups including the Conjunto Sorpresa, Orquesta Chepin-Choven and Afro-Cuban All Stars. Later in life, Ferrer became a member of the internationally successful Buena Vista Social Club. 

Ibrahim Ferrer was one of the greatest of Cuban singers. A charming and humble man, he was blessed with a voice that could tackle anything from Cuba's romantic ballads - boleros - to the up-tempo improvised son dance songs that were the speciality of his early career. Ferrer established his worldwide reputation late in life, after a transformation of his fortunes. In the 1990s, he moved from impoverished retirement, in which he supplemented his tiny pension by earning occasional money as an elderly shoeshine "boy" or selling lottery tickets, to the concert halls of the world, first as lead male singer with the bestselling Buena Vista Social Club, and then as a soloist in his own right. 

Ferrer's extraordinary switchback career began when he started singing professionally as a teenager. He was born, so he always insisted, at a social club dance in San Luis, just outside Santiago, where his mother suddenly went into labour. She died when he was 12 and he then supported himself as a street vendor, carpenter and docker, before his move into music. At first he played with a cousin's amateur band, and then moved on to work with Santiago's Orquesta Chepin-Choven. They became popular across the island, and Ferrer was their singer at the time of their greatest hit, El Platanal de Bartolo. Moving to Havana, he worked with some of Cuba's finest singers, including the great Beny Moré, and sang with Los Bocucos, famous for their percussive dance songs. 

By the early 1990s he had retired, and lived in a little flat in Havana. His life suddenly changed thanks to the passionate Cuban music enthusiast, composer and band leader, Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, whose ideas about reviving classic Cuban music styles led to the project that was the Buena Vista Social Club. 

At first the project did not involve Ferrer, but during the recording of the Club's celebrated album, nine years ago, producer Ry Cooder needed a softer voice for the number Dos Gardenias. Juan de Marcos said he knew just the man. Nick Gold, the album's executive producer, said: "He dashed out, and then turned up with Ibrahim. The other musicians all knew him and started playing a song from Santiago in his honour. Ibrahim just fell in with what was going on, and about five minutes later he started recording." 

What followed is music history. Ferrer became a key member of the group, taking many of the male lead vocals on the album. He sang on Dos Gardenias, a bolero that he learned with Beny Moré in the 1950s, and he took the lead on his own song, De Camino a la Vereda, influenced by his strong belief in the Santeria religion. He also showed his skill in duets, notably with his female counterpart, Omara Portuondo. Both on stage, and in the Wim Wenders film, their songs together were show stoppers. 
 

 
                      Here's "Como Fue" from above album.
                            
 
With Portuondo and other members of the Club, he went on to enjoy a successful solo career, recording two solo albums both produced by Cooder: Buena Vista Social Club Presents Ibrahim Ferrer (1999, with a classic duet with Portuendo, Silencio) and Buenos Hermanos (2003, with a fine slow ballad, Mil Congojas). 

On stage, he was a dapper, moustachio'ed figure, sporting a cap and surrounded by Cuba's finest musicians, from Manuel Galban on guitar to bass player Cachaito Lopez. Nick Gold described Ferrer's work as "the most beautiful singing I'd ever heard. He was the last of the classic bolero singers, but he could also handle up-tempo, improvised material. A very rare talent."

His frailty was becoming evident on stage in recent years, but he was still a fine, sensitive singer. He died at age 78 of multiple organ failure on August 6, 2005 at CIMEQ hospital in Havana (Cuba)  soon after completing another European tour that featured a string of British dates, including an appearance at Kenwood House on London's Hampstead Heath at the end of July. He returned home to Cuba to record yet another solo album; it was to be devoted to the boleros that he had rehearsed in his latest shows.

Ferrer sold over 6m albums, with Buena Vista or as a soloist, but he said that his dream was to record the boleros album. Later in 2005  he had planned another extensive European tour, which would include a show at London's Barbican, but he died after returning from a European tour. He was buried in the Colón Cemetery, Havana.
 
 
His death, along with those of Buena Vista singer/guitarist Compay Segundo (obituary, July 16 2003) and pianist Ruben Gonzalez (obituary, December 10 2003), is the end of a golden era in Cuban music.    (Edited mainly from an article by Robin Denselow for The Guardian.)

Ibrahim Ferrer and a band featuring Orlando 'Cachaito' Lopez, Roberto Fonseca and Manuel Galban perform 'Perfidia' from his third and last album 'Mi Sueno'.
 

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Lou Christie born 19 February 1943


Lugee Alfredo Giovanni Sacco (born February 19, 1943), known professionally as Lou Christie, is an American singer-songwriter best known for three separate strings of pop hits in the 1960s, including his 1966 hit "Lightnin' Strikes". 

While Lou Christie's shrieking falsetto was among the most distinctive voices in all of pop music, he was also one of the first solo performers of the rock era to compose his own material, generating some of the biggest and most memorable hits of the mid-'60s.  

Born Lugee Alfredo Giovanni Sacco in Glen Willard, PA on February 19, 1943, he won a scholarship to Moon Township High School as a teen; there he studied music and vocal technique, later joining a group dubbed the Classics. Between 1959 and 1962, in collaboration with a variety of Pittsburgh-area bands, he cut a series of records for small local labels, adopting the stage name Lou Christie along the way.  

Eventually he made the acquaintance of Twyla Herbert, a classically trained musician and self-proclaimed mystic some 20 years his senior; they became song writing partners, and in 1962 penned "The Gypsy Cried," which he recorded on two-track in his garage. The single became a local phenomenon, and was eventually licensed for national release by the Roulette label, peaking at number 24 on the pop charts in 1963. 

After relocating to New York and landing session work as a backing vocalist, Christie wrote and recorded a follow-up, "Two Faces Have I"; it landed in the Top Ten, but shortly after its release he began a two-year stint in the Army. He returned to action in 1966, picking up right where he left off with his biggest hit yet -- the lush, chart-topping "Lightnin' Strikes." Christie's next smash, 1966's "Rhapsody in the Rain," was notorious for being among the more sexually explicit efforts of the period. 
 
  
 
                         

After brief stays with Colpix and Columbia, he next moved to the Buddah label, scoring one last Top Ten hit in 1969 with "I'm Gonna Make You Mine." Drug problems plagued Christie during the early '70s, and after getting clean at a London rehab clinic, he
dropped out of music, working variously as a ranch hand, offshore oil driller, and carnival barker; by the 1980s, he was making the occasional appearance on oldies package tours, and in 1997 issued Pledging My Love, his first new material in over a quarter-century. 

On October 21, 2003, Christie appeared at the Bottom Line in New York City, with performances from the show (one of the last to be held at the longstanding venue) heard on Greatest Hits Live at the Bottom Line, released by Varèse Sarabande in 2004). 

In addition to the occasional new release, Christie remains a concert act on the oldies circuit in the US and UK. He has also hosted a series of programs on SiriusXM radio for the 1960s channel. Today, he still plays a couple of hundred shows a year and posts new songs on his website. His fans include actress/director Asia Argento, who regularly tweets links to Christie obscurities, and he is blessed with a talented super-fan called Harry Young who has written a raft of effusive and entertaining sleeve notes for Christie’s reissues over the years.  (Info edited mainly from All music)


Saturday, 18 February 2017

Hazy Osterwald born 18 February 1922


Hazy Osterwald (born February 18, 1922 as Rolf Erich Osterwalder in Berne, Germany , February 26, 2012 in Lucerne , Switzerland ) was a Swiss musician , singer and orchestra conductor .  His most famous pieces include the « Kriminal-Tango » and the «Wirtschaft-Cha-Cha» 
 
Osterwald, the son of football national player and bookkeeper Adolf Osterwalder , who was also nicknamed Hazy, was a fan of football and was excluded from his piano lessons because of his lack of practice.  However, schoolmates urged him to become a pianist in the school orchestra.  In 1939 he became its leader.  From 1940 on, he attended the Conservatoire and studied composition and theory with Albert Moeschinger .  In 1940, one year before his matura, he arranged for the orchestra conductor Teddy Stauffer and others.  In 1941 he played trumpet in the band of Fred Böhler , from 1942 under the artist name "Hazy Osterwald".  

In the "Original Teddies" by saxophonist Eddie Brunner , the successor to Stauffer, he played the piano and trumpet in 1944, but in the same year he founded his own eight-headed combo with the singer Kitty Ramon .  On 1 September 1944 the first engagement took place in the Dancing Chikito in Bern.  The expansion to the big band turned out to be too expensive, and on the 1 st of May 1949 Svend Asmussen set up his sextet , with whom he played the same year at the International Jazz Festival in Paris, where also greats such as Charlie Parker and Sidney Bechet . 

After appearing in Europe in 1951 the Americans engaged the sextet as Hazy Osterwald USO-Show (O for Overseas).  Shortly thereafter, a six-month contract for Beverly Hills was rejected in 1952 by the American musicians' union.  The sextet again concentrated on Europe and played in Stockholm, Lisbon and Arosa.  In 1953, the first German radio production took place at the NWDR in Hamburg, followed by the first recordings for the Austrian Austroton.  In 1954 the Hazy Osterwald-Sextet appeared in the German television film A small, big journey .  

In 1955 he received a record contract with Polydor and made recordings with the Cologne producers Heinz Gietz and Kurt Feltz .  In 1957 and 1958 they played in the Olympia in front of sold out house. They were very successful not least because of their funny stage show.  Big record successes were the tracks "Kriminal Tango" (1959), "Panoptikum" (1960) and "Konjunktur Cha-Cha" (1961).
 
 
                               
 
In 1961 Franz Josef Gottlieb produced the Hazy Osterwald story with Gustav Knuth , Eddie Arent and Peer Schmidt .  It is based on a 1961 biography by Walter Grieder .  Osterwald acted as a trumpeter, pianist, vibraphonist, bandleader, composer, lyricist, choreographer, arranger, director and producer at the Sextet in Personalunion. 

Then followed in the ARD the TV show «Lieben Sie Show?" Directed by the young Michael Pfleghar , which was broadcast for the first time on 24 November 1962 and has remained one of the most successful international TV shows in Germany, broadcast in 35 countries.  Here Osterwald was presented in its own show.  The last episode ran on 16 March 1963. 

Osterwald toured 1979, now under the name Hazy Osterwald Jetset .  Amongst others they were an official band at the Olympic Games 1972 in Munich and 1976 in Innsbruck as well as in numerous television broadcasts.  At the height of his career in the 1970s, Osterwald had his own record publishing house and a series of nightclubs ( Hazyland ) in Switzerland , which he had to sell when the public taste ( discos ) changed.  He then set up a performance break until 1984, then acted as a vibraphonist with Hazy Osterwald and the Entertainers , turning back to jazz.  

 In 1999, he published his autobiography .  On the occasion of his 90th birthday, it became known that he had been dependent on a wheelchair for a long time because of Parkinson's disease , which had existed since 1992 . Until his death in February 2012, Hazy Osterwald lived in Lucerne. (Info edited from Wikipedia translation.)
 

Friday, 17 February 2017

John Leyton born 17 February 1936

 
John Dudley Leyton (born 17 February 1936 in Frinton-on-Sea, Essex) is an English actor and singer.
 
Leyton went to Highgate School and after completing his national service, he studied drama, paying his way through drama school with bit-part roles in films and on television. His first major acting role was his portrayal of Ginger in a 1960 Granada TV adaptation of Biggles, which earned him a large following of young female fans and led to the formation of a John Leyton fan club. 

Following the success of Biggles, Leyton was persuaded by his manager, Robert Stigwood, to audition as a singer for record producer Joe Meek, and subsequently recorded a cover version of "Tell Laura I Love Her", which was released on the Top Rank label. In 1961 though, the Top Rank label was taken over by EMI who then issued Leyton's records on their HMV label. EMI had already released Ricky Valance's version of the same song. Leyton's recording was withdrawn from sale, whilst Valance's version reached Number 1 in the UK chart. 

A second single - "The Girl on the Floor Above" - was released on the HMV label, but was not a success. His first big hit, "Johnny Remember Me", coincided with his appearance as an actor in the popular ATV television series Harpers West One, in which he played a singer named Johnny Saint Cyr. Leyton performed "Johnny Remember Me" during the show (backed by the Outlaws), and the single subsequently charted at Number 1. His next single, "Wild Wind", reached number 2 in the UK Singles Chart, and later singles also achieved lower chart positions.
 
 
                          

On 15 April 1962, Leyton performed at the NME Poll-Winners Concert at London's Wembley Pool. But in 1963, Meek and Goddard's association with Leyton ended; that circumstance, combined with the British beat boom, cast Leyton adrift immediately, although he found a lot of acting work in television and film to keep him busy. Despite trying to give Leyton's music more of a 'group' sound by giving him a backing group, 'The LeRoys', his chart career faded out by the beginning of 1964. 

Leyton was a familiar face in film and television during the 1960s. He played himself in the 1962 Dick Lester film It's Trad, Dad!, performing his latest single "Lonely City" in a radio studio. In The Great Escape (1963) he played tunnel designer Willie Dickes, one of the only three characters who successfully make it to freedom. He also appeared in Guns at Batasi in 1964; Every Day's a Holiday (aka Seaside Swingers in the United States) and Von Ryan's Express starring Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard in 1965. In Krakatoa, East of Java, in 1969 he played the designer of a diving bell. 

From 1966 to 1967, Leyton played the lead role as SOE Royal Navy Lieutenant Nicholas Gage, an expert in demolitions, in Jericho, an American TV series about espionage in the Second World War.

He returned to Britain in the early 1970s and unsuccessfully attempted to re-launch his singing career, signing to the York record label in the UK but without success. In the mid 1970s, Leyton starred in the ITV television series, The Nearly Man. Acting roles became fewer and farther between during the 1970s, and by the early 1980s, he was no longer active in show business. 

In the 1990s, however, he began performing in the 'Solid Gold Rock 'n' Roll Show', appearing with artists such as Marty Wilde and Joe Brown. The autumn 2004 tour featured Leyton, Showaddywaddy, Freddy Cannon and Craig Douglas. Leyton has also returned to acting, with a cameo appearance in the 2005 film, Colour Me Kubrick starring John Malkovich.
 
In May 2006, Leyton released "Hi Ho, Come On England", a re-working of Jeff Beck's "Hi Ho Silver Lining", to coincide with the World Cup in Germany. During the summer of 2007 he filmed a cameo appearance for the Nick Moran film, Telstar. Leyton also topped the bill at the Theatre Royal, Windsor, along with 1960s stars Jess Conrad and Craig Douglas at a concert named "'60s Icons".
 
Leyton continues to tour the UK and Scandinavia performing his hits (sometimes backed by the Rapiers) and can boast an internet following with his official website. In 2014 John continues to tour with his band the Flames, featuring John James on guitar, Ray Royal on drums and Dale Corcoran on bass guitar.
 
(Info edited from Wikipedia)

Here's John Leyton's sixth single released in 1962 and was featured in the film It's Trad Dad.
 

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Bill Doggett born 16 February 1916


William Ballard "Bill" Doggett (February 16, 1916 – November 13, 1996) was an American jazz and rhythm and blues pianist and organist. He is best known for his compositions "Honky Tonk" and "Hippy Dippy", and variously working with the Ink Spots, Johnny Otis, Wynonie Harris, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Jordan. 

William Ballard Doggett was born February 16, 1916, on the north side of Philadelphia. At age nine, Doggett was attracted to the trumpet, but his family could not afford one.  Bill's mother, Wynona, was a church pianist and his inspiration. Within a few years, he switched to the piano and was hailed as a child prodigy by the time he was thirteen. At fifteen, he formed his first combo, the Five Majors. While attending Central High School, he found work playing in the pit orchestra at the Nixon Grand theater with the Jimmy Gorman Band. 

Eventually, he inherited Gorman's fifteen-piece orchestra. His career as a band leader was short-lived as he came to the conclusion that the field was over crowded. In financial distress , he sold the band to Lucky Millender and joined Millender himself.   In 1939, Doggett with Jimmy Munder, Benny Goodman's arranger, form an orchestra. Later that year Doggett made his first two recordings as part of Lucky's band, "Little Old Lady From Baltimore" and "All Aboard," released on the Varsity label. 
 
Doggett returned to Millender's orchestra as a pianist in 1941. He appeared on the next eight of Millender's recordings. In late 1942, he joined the Ink Spots and became the group's arranger and pianist.  He stayed with the group two years during which he recorded five singles with them. 

The next ten years, Doggett toured and recorded with several of the nation's top singer and bands, including Johnny Otis, Wynonie Harris, Louis Jordan, Ella Fitzgerald and Lionel Hampton. 

In 1949 he joined Louis Jordan, as a pianist replacing Wild Bill Davis. Doggett was a featured performer on many of Jordan's classic Decca recordings including "Saturday Night Fish Fry' and "Blue Light Boogie." Doggett credited his time with Jordan for educating him to the finer points of pleasing an audience. 

When Doggett decided to form another combo he was torn with should he use the organ in a "pop" music setting.  Like most musicians of that time, Doggett felt the sound of the organ was sacred and should be reserved for a church setting. However, when on he own he decided that he needed a fresh sound to set him apart from other piano combos. It was an agonizing design, but he felt it was the right one in switching to the organ. In late 1951 he formed a trio and quickly landed a recording contract with Cincinnati's King Records.
 
While with King 1952-56, more than a dozen singles were released. Many were moderately successful within the rhythm and blues community and some even caught on with the jazz fans.  Most of the records were delivered in the mildly swinging groove reflecting his years with Millender and Jordan. He also recorded in the slow blues style perfected during his years with Fitzgerald and the Ink Spots.
 

                               

His best known recording is "Honky Tonk", a rhythm and blues hit of 1956 which sold four million copies (reaching No. 1 R&B and No. 2 Pop), and which he co-wrote with Billy Butler. The track topped the US Billboard R&B chart for over two months. He won the Cash Box award for best rhythm and blues performer in 1957, 1958, and 1959.  
 
Doggett remained with King Records until 1960. The next few years he recorded for Warner Brothers.  After that Columbia, ABC-Paramount and Sue for sporadic singles and albums. His strong drawing power allowed him to work jazz festivals in America and Europe. It was during the mid sixties rock and roll had changed forms and left him behind.  At the same time his popularity in the jazz community had declined. Finding it hard to get regular bookings, he turned his efforts toward the passage of civil rights passage using his concerts to promote public awareness. 


By the 1970s, Doggett had re-established himself in the jazz community and regular offers of bookings started to come in. He played regional jazz clubs in New Orleans, Cleveland and New York State. A long-time resident of Long Island, New York, Doggett continued to play and arrange until he died on November 13, 1996, three days after suffering a heart attack. 

(Info edited from History of Rock & Wikipedia)

Here’s a TV gig in  France. Billy Martin - tenor sax; Benny Goodwin - guitar; Walter MacMahon - bass; Kenny Clayton - drums.


Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Hank Locklin born 15 February 1918


Lawrence Hankins 'Hank' Locklin (February 15, 1918 – March 8, 2009) was an American country music singer-songwriter. A member of the Grand Ole Opry for nearly 50 years, Locklin had a long recording career with RCA Victor, and scored big hits with "Please Help Me, I'm Falling", "Send Me the Pillow You Dream On" and "Geisha Girl" from 1957-1960. His singles charted from 1949-1971. 

Born in McLellan in the Florida Panhandle, Locklin grew up working in the cotton fields to supplement his family’s low income. He began playing the guitar at the age of nine after being seriously injured by a school bus. He was picking guitar for amateur contests in Milton, Florida, by age 10. In his teens he was a featured performer on Pensacola radio station WCOA.  For the next several years, he played with a variety of groups through the South and worked at various jobs in Florida, including farmer, ribbon mill hanker, and shipyard worker.

After World War II ended, his career started taking off. He was one of country music's early honky tonk singers and appeared on Shreveport’s Louisiana Hayride and the Big D Jamboree in Dallas, Texas. He recorded briefly for Decca, and after meeting producer Bill McCall, Hank recorded for McCall’s Four Star Records for five years.  Hank scored his first Top 10 song in 1949 with “The Same Sweet Girls.” Four years later, he had a No. 1 with “Let Me Be the One,” and a recording contract with RCA Victor followed. 

The next year started a string of hit singles, with “Send Me the Pillow You Dream On,” which he wrote, “It’s a Little More Like Heaven," "Geisha Girl," "Fraulein," "Why, Baby Why," and “Blue Grass Skirt.” 
 
 
                                
 
In 1960, the remarkable success of “Please Help Me, I’m Falling”—the song not only dominated the country chart that year, but crossed over into the Top 10 pop charts in both the United States and the United Kingdom—earned him membership in the Grand Ole Opry.  It also introduced the slip-note piano style to country music through legendary pianist Floyd Cramer and was a major factor in creating the “Nashville Sound.”   The slip-note piano style was synonymous with Hank's recordings from that point forward and considered his signature sound. 

In the 1960s, Locklin built a ranch house called The Singing L in the field in McClellan where he had picked cotton as a boy. He was later made the honorary mayor of the town.
Many hits followed throughout the ’60s, including “We're Gonna Go Fishin'," "Happy Birthday To Me," "Happy Journey," "Followed Closely by My Teardrops,” “The Country Hall of Fame,” and "Where The Blue Of The Night, Meets The Gold Of The Day."  During this time, Hank pioneered the creation of concept albums in country music with releases such as Foreign Love and Irish Songs, Country Style. Hank is also credited with taking country music to unprecedented heights of popularity with International audiences throughout the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.  In all, Hank has sold more than 15 million albums and received numerous industry awards from The Grand Ole Opry, BMI, ASCAP, Cashbox, Billboard and NARAS.  

His first marriage to Willa Jean Murphy ended in divorce. In 1970 he married Anita Crooks of Brewton, Alabama. He had a son and four daughters, 12 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and a few close great nieces and nephews.
Long a favorite with Opry audiences, Hank returned to the studio in 2001 to record Generations in Song. Featuring long-time colleagues such as Dolly Parton and Jeannie Seely, newer friends and admirers like Vince Gill (who cites Hank as an influence) and Jett Williams.In 2006, Locklin appeared on the PBS special, Country Pop Legends in which he performed "Send Me the Pillow That You Dream On," and "Please Help Me I'm Falling". Until his death at the age of 91 in 2009, he was the oldest living member of the Grand Ole Opry. Hank had recently released his 65th album, By the Grace of God, a collection of gospel songs. 

In 2007 he was inducted to the Florida Artists Hall of Fame.

 
He moved to Brewton, where he remained throughout his later years, and died there at home in the early morning on March 8, 2009.  (Info edited from hanklocklin.com & Wikipedia)


Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Lillie Bryant born 14 February 1940


Lillie Bryant (born February 14, 1940, Newburgh, New York) is an American singer who was part of the pop vocal duo Billy & Lillie.
 
Born in Newburgh, NY, about an hour and a half from New York City, Lillie always loved music. Her initial public singing was in the church as a very young child. Her favourite singers were Dinah Washington, Ruth Brown and Nat "King" Cole. Her grandmother would frequently take her to New York City's legendary Apollo Theatre to see many of music's biggest performers. Young Lillie vowed to herself "one day I'm gonna be on that stage." And when she turned 14, she was on that stage! She appeared during an amateur night and did a rousing rendition of Ruth's signature song "(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean" and tore the house down. 

For the next few years she performed in New York City working at different clubs. When she was 17, a dancer at one of the clubs loved her singing and told her that a popular bandleader-arranger-musician-singer named Billy Ford was looking for a female vocalist to be part of his ensemble. Lillie followed up and a couple of months later, Billy invited her to come down and audition for him. On the day of the audition, it just so happened that the regular girl singer with his group did not show up due to illness. So Lillie turned out to be the only one there that afternoon. 

Unbeknown to Lillie, two very successful producer-songwriters named Bob Crewe and Frank Slay were there to audition Billy's group, which was called Billy Ford's Thunderbirds. Frank and Bob happened to be looking for a duo to record a song that they had written called "La Dee Dah." Being that they were looking for a duo and the young lady who was usually with Billy was not there, they said pointing to Lillie "what does she sound like?" Billy said "I don't know! I was going to audition her after you leave." But Bob said "well, we'd like to hear her." They asked Lillie to sing and she chose the Ruth Brown song "(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean." 

After she sang, they opened up a briefcase and pulled out the sheet music of "La Dee Dah" and said "would the two of you please sing this song together"? Somewhat bewildered Billy and Lillie obliged and Bob and Frank loved what they heard. Following their impromptu performance, Frank and Bob looked at each other, nodded their heads and said in unison "we got our duo"! Lillie's scheduled audition for Billy Ford never happened. Instead her unscheduled audition for Bob and Frank did happen and Billy and Lillie passed with flying colours.  
 
 
                              

Billy & Lillie recorded for Swan Records in the late 1950s, and charted three hit singles in the United States, two of them written by the songwriter and record producer Bob Crewe, and producer Frank C. Slay, Jr. Crewe later became one of the most successful songwriters and producers in history. 

The first single, "La Dee Dah" (written by Crewe), was the only one of them to hit the Top 10 on the Billboard chart, peaking at No. 9. It was released on Swan Records and sold over 1,000,000 copies and was awarded a gold disc. When they performed "La Dee Dah" for Dick Clark's American Bandstand, Clark liked their song so much that he asked the songwriters to write another song. Crewe and Slay came up with their third single release, "Lucky Ladybug". Most of their singles were released on London Records in the UK. 

While releasing records as half of the Billy and Lillie duo, Lillie also released solo records which became regional hits. They included "Smoky Gray Eyes," "The Gambler," "I'll Never Be Free," and "Good Good Morning Baby." 

Billy and Lillie broke up in 1959 but Lillie (who became Lillie Bryant Howard) never stopped singing. Her primary musical focus over the years has changed from catchy rock and roll tunes to jazz and blues. But  she still performs the old Billy and Lillie hits including a critically-acclaimed brand new solo version of "La Dee Dah." 

Ford died in 1983 (though some sources suggest 1985). Bryant returned to her hometown of Newburgh, New York, and became a community activist. She was the Democratic candidate for mayor of Newburgh in 2007. She lost the election to the Republican candidate by 150 votes. 

Recently Lille was a featured principle, along with jazz vocalist Sheila Jordan, in the off-Broadway production of "The Beatnik Cafe." And she has also been doing a tribute to Dinah Washington since the fall of 2009 throughout upstate New York, Boston, and Pennsylvania in theatres and at private affairs.
 
(Info edited from Wikipedia & jerseygirlssing.com)