I decided to write about Ella Fitzgerald last week, after reading an article by John Fordham, in the Graun G2, that led me to believe that last Friday would have been her 90th birthday:
“The star-studded 10-day London jazz festival opens on Friday with a celebration of what would have been Ella’s 90th birthday, with vocalists from four-time Mobo winner Jamelia and jazz and Broadway show singer Lea deLaria to the subtly swinging Claire Martin and the dramatic, subversive Ian Shaw queueing up to pay their respects.”
Then I checked: Ella was born on 25th April 1917 (and died 15 June 1996): just goes to show – once again – that you shouldn’t believe everything you read in the Graun.
After that I was going to forget about the Ella piece, until I read the reports of Amy Winehouse’s gig at the NIA Birmingham: “A shambles” (the Times), “One of the saddest nights of my life” (Birmingham Mail), “It was absolutely terrible - it was embarrassing for everyone” (Adele, Stourbridge).
Ms Winehouse was, apparently, very late arriving on stage, but still recieved a warm welcome from the audience. It was only after she started snorting coke on stage, and singing wildly out of tune, that they started booing.
According to Barbera Ellen of the Observer, she sounded like “an alley cat being tortured with rusty pliers.”
When the booing started, Winehouse went on to address her audience as follows:
“Who’s booing? Everyone who’s booing is a manky cunt. Wait till my husband gets out. He’s incarcerated. But wait till he gets out. I mean it, cunts.”
I think most of us know what to make of a ‘performer’ who adresses her audience like that – after having given a pathetically poor show. But that pillock Andrew Lloyd Webber defended Winehouse, claiming she has “Ella Fitzgerald quality”.
The idea that there could, possibly, be any comparison between a spoiled, middle-class brat like Winehouse, and the superb, divinely-gifted, but sadly insecure, Ella, is – simply- preposterous. Ella treated her audiences with respect and -despite considerable personal problems - always gave of her best. She would no more swear at an audience than sing out of tune.
I wrote about Ella in the early days of this blog, and I see no reason to revise what I wrote then.
Is Amy Winehouse in the same league? The proof of the pudding, as they say;
Here’s Ella in Amsterdam in 1957, singing ‘Angel Eyes’:
…and during her run at Ronnie Scott’s, London in 1965, singing ‘Misty’ with the Tommy Flanagan trio: