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High Times Hard Times


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Anita O'Day (Anita Belle Colton) was a singer's singer. Highly rhythmic with a distinctive sense of phrasing, she was one of the first big band singers to tackle the intricacies of bebop and prevail. She's influenced many, including June Christy and Chris Connor, and now stands as a vocal legend. She rose to fame as a swinging, good-humored stylist with the Gene Krupa big band ("Let Me Off Uptown," 1941) and the Stan Kenton band ("And Her Tears Flowed like Wine," 1944) before she became a successful solo act. A series of popular 1950s albums and her energetic performance at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, seen in the noted film Jazz on a Summer's Day, were among her career highlights. O'Day's successes were interrupted by personal problems, including addiction and arrests for drug possession, but she went on to perform in clubs and festivals around the world and in a 50-year-anniversary concert at Carnegie Hall in 1985. Her autobiography,High Times Hard Times (1981), was coauthored by George Eells. George Eells, author and playwright, began his career as a freelance reader for Hollywood film studios. He moved to New York, where he worked as entertainment editor for Parade, and later Theatre Arts, Signature, and Diners Club magazines. Eells wrote The Life that Late He Lead: A Biography of Cole Porter, for which he received the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award. He went on to write a total of eight biographies. Ells proclaimed his favorite work was co-authoring High Times Hard Times.


In the tradition of the best jazz autobiographies...a fascinating travelogue through the jazz world, filled with vivid images of Gene Krupa, Stan Kenton, Roy Eldridge and Billie Holiday...Her prose is as hip as her music. * The New York Times Book Review *
A valuable, revealing, and read-at-a-gulp account of a premier American artist and the punishing winds that shaped her life and her craft. * The San Francisco Chronicle *
A remarkably truthful book * The Chicago Tribune *
There's a pithy edge to Ms. Day's narrative, a certain comical 'give 'em hell' combativeness that shines through the book's many dark moments. * Detroit News *
The record of [the] early years is like the story of the music itself; rich, exciting, innovative; featuring the primitive beauty of the twenties when one foot was still in showbiz; the thirties with hip sophistication and hard swinging for hard times; the explosive forties of pre-war big band bashes and post-war bop; and then the fifties, going off in a hundred directions with a needle in the arm...it is the best jazz autobiography I've ever read. -- Jim Christy * Globe and Mail *
This no-holds-barred account of Anita's career ups and downs, drug fables, romantic interludes, and musical tales is fascinating reading. * LA Weekly *

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