Anita O'Day

Singer + Jazz Musician
Born Oct 18, 1919

Anita O'Day was an American jazz singer. Born Anita Belle Colton, O'Day was admired for her sense of rhythm and dynamics, and her early big band appearances shattered the traditional image of the "girl singer". Refusing to pander to any female stereotype, O'Day presented herself as a "hip" jazz musician, wearing a band jacket and skirt as opposed to an evening gown. She changed her surname from Colton to O'Day, pig Latin for "dough," slang for money.… Read More

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1919 Birth Born on October 18, 1919.


1934 - 1936 2 More Events
1937 17 Years Old At the Vialago, O'Day met the drummer Don Carter, who introduced her to music theory; they wed in 1937.
1938 18 Years Old Her first big break came in 1938 when Down Beat editor Carl Cons hired her to work at his new club at 222 North State Street, the Off-Beat, which became a popular hangout for musicians. … Read More
1939 19 Years Old While performing at the Off Beat, she met Gene Krupa, who promised to call her if Irene Daye, then his vocalist, ever left his band, and in 1939, O'Day was hired as vocalist for Miller's Quartet, which had a stay at the Three Deuces club in Chicago. … Read More


1942 22 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1942 she appeared with the Krupa band in two "soundies" (short musical films originally made for jukeboxes), singing "Thanks for the Boogie Ride" and "Let Me Off Uptown". … Read More
1943 23 Years Old When Krupa's band broke up after he was arrested for possession of cannabis in 1943, O'Day joined Woody Herman for a month-long gig at the Hollywood Palladium, followed by two weeks at the Orpheum. … Read More
1944 24 Years Old Despite her initial misgivings about the compatibility of their musical styles, she joined Stan Kenton's band in April 1944. … Read More
1945 25 Years Old In 1945 she rejoined Krupa's band and stayed almost a year. … Read More
1946 26 Years Old After leaving Krupa late in 1946, O'Day once again became a solo artist. … Read More
1948 28 Years Old After her jail stint, O'Day performed with Woody Herman's Herd and the Stan Kenton Artistry In Rhythm Orchestra. Her career was back on the upswing in September 1948 when she sang with Count Basie at the Royal Roost in New York City, resulting in five airchecks.


1952 32 Years Old 1 More Event
What secured O'Day's place in the jazz pantheon, however, were the 17 albums she recorded for Norman Granz's Norgran and Verve labels between 1952 and 1962.
1953 - 1954 2 More Events
1958 38 Years Old As a live performer O'Day also began performing in festivals and concerts with such musicians as Louis Armstrong, Oscar Peterson, Dinah Washington, George Shearing, Cal Tjader and Thelonious Monk. She appeared in the documentary Jazz on a Summer's Day, filmed at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, which increased her popularity. … Read More
1959 39 Years Old The following year, O'Day made a cameo appearance in The Gene Krupa Story, singing "Memories of You". Late in 1959, she toured Europe with Benny Goodman to great personal acclaim. … Read More


1970 50 Years Old After kicking the habit, she made a comeback at the 1970 Berlin Jazz Festival. … Read More


1980 60 Years Old In November 1980 she was a headliner along with Clark Terry, Lionel Hampton and Ramsey Lewis during the opening two-week ceremony performances celebrating the short-lived resurgence of the Blue Note Lounge at the Marriott O'Hare Hotel near Chicago.
1981 61 Years Old O'Day spoke candidly about her drug addiction in her 1981 memoir High Times, Hard Times, which led to a string of TV appearances on 60 Minutes, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Today Show with Bryant Gumbel, The Dick Cavett Show, Over Easy with Hugh Downs, The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder, and several others. … Read More
2005 85 Years Old In 2005, her version of the standard "Sing, Sing, Sing" was remixed by RSL and was included in the compilation album Verve Remixed 3. … Read More
2006 86 Years Old 1 More Event
In November 2006, Robbie Cavolina (her last manager) entered her into a West Hollywood convalescent hospital, while she recovered from pneumonia. … Read More
Original Authors of this text are noted on'Day.
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