Happy 100, Lady Day!

Fifties, Jazz

The legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday was born on April 7th, 1915. So next week on Tuesday her 100th birthday will be celebrated. With of course a lot of new releases, among which one of my all time favourite albums: Lady In Satin. Looking very much forward to that. This of course has little to do with Andy Warhol. But it could have…

Early Fifties Warhol made some sketches – at least three are known –  for a Billie Holiday record cover, that unfortunately has never materialized. On all drawings is mentioned ‘Volume 3’. One drawing has Lady Day and her musicians represented with so called ‘sprite faces’, similar to the Latin Rhythms EP. Two other drawings consist of a collage of little scenes, a bit reminiscent to a book cover Warhol did in 1953: Who Cooked Mother Goose.

On the cover with the sprite heads, 4 song titles are written in Warhol’s handwriting. All of these songs were recorded in the 1930’ies and released on 78rpm records, of different Columbia sub-labels. The songs are:

  • They Say (BH with Teddy Wilson Orchestra, Brunswick, 1938)
  • Georgia On My Mind (BH with Eddie Heywood & his Orchestra, OKeh, 1941)
  • Did I Remember? (BH and her Orchestra, Vocalion, 1936)
  • I’ll Never Be The Same (BH with Teddy Wilson Orchestra, Brunswick, 1937)

Wouldn’t it be a great birthday present if Sony Records / Columbia Legacy released this record as a vinyl 4 track EP with the Warhol cover? I for one would be very happy with that.

I do not have any of these drawings in my collection (unfortunately!). These are the sources:

  • The Sprite face cover was on show (and for sale) at the Jablonka Galerie (Cologne) and the JGM.Galerie (Paris) in 2005. (Thanks to French collector Florent Fressier for this information)
  • The collage with black, blue & pink is printed in the book Andy Warhol – Drawings and Illustrations of the 1950s (DAP/Goliga Books). Update: this drawing belongs to the collection of The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, says chief archivist Matt Wrbican.
  • The collage with orange & pink was on show at the Robert Miller Gallery (New York) in 2011. I found this information on the blog of Olivia Feal.

billie-holiday-warhol-cover-1 billie-holiday-warhol-cover-2 billie-holiday-warhol-cover-3

Update: a fourth version for Billie Holiday, Volume 3 was included in the exhibition Adman, Warhol Before Pop.

10 thoughts on “Happy 100, Lady Day!”

  1. Fantastic post Guy, would have made an awsome cover indeed. And i love those sprite heads. Thanks for sharing the drawings, the third one was very interesting with quite similar objects and coloring as “mother goose”. There really is SO MUCH that i havent seen or learned when it comes to all this. Keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

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