Riffs Obits
Click here for Anita's website
Click here to watch the trailer for a documentary about Anita
Published November 24, 2006
The Princess Has Swung
Anita O'Day 1919 - 2006

Drape the stage and all the players in black, Beloveds. Hip every head to the sad drag news that Anita O'Day, whom Lord Buckley dubbed "The Princess of Swing", has swung out of this sweet, swingin' sphere at the age of 87.

A 27 year old Dick Buckley first encountered a 14 year old, school skipping Anita Belle Colton in 1933 when she entered the Leo Seltzer's Chicago Coliseum Walkathon as a dance contestant. Buckley was the premier MC for that event. When the school truant officers arrived to look for under aged Walkathon participants Anita quickly changed her last name to O'Day (pig latin for Dough") and claimed to be 18.

Eventually Anita, with a penchant for singing, found herself vocalizing in some of the local Chicago clubs that featured Dick Buckley as a comic. He introduced her to some of the best and hippest songs in the jazz repetorie and helped school her in the art of stage presence.

She successfully battled decades long addictions to heroin and alcohol and, along with Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, she went on to become one of the three greatest female jazz singers of the 20th Century.

In a 2001 interview for the Lord Buckley documentary film "Too Hip For The Room", Anita talked about how much a gentleman His Lordship was to her, "He always made me feel special. He never kibitzed with me. He always made me feel like, you know, a girl."

Recovering from a recent bout of pneumonia, Anita's ticker finally reached the long rest note in the last bar of her chart and she swooped the scene. Her last album "Indestructable!." was released earlier this year. The album is pure Anita O'Day. Even at 87 the impeccable jazz phrasing and timing was evident. Add to this her indomitable spirit and you can see why we all should be playing the next set in a minor key for Miss Anita Belle Colton O'Day.