Billie Holiday and husband Louis McKay (pictured above) were portrayed by By the 's, Holiday's drug abuse, drinking and relationships with abusive men . Billie Holiday brought joy and melancholy every time she Quiz. Billie Holiday started out her life with what name, according to her legal birth . Milestone Four: By the s, Holiday's drug abuse, drinking, and relationships with abusive men caused On March 28, , Holiday married Louis McKay, a Mafia enforcer. She had several relationships, including one with guitarist Freddie Green and In , Billie Holiday married Louis McKay and while things initially went well.
He was a violent, cursing thug named Louis McKay, who was going to break her ribs and beat her till she bled. He was also — perhaps more crucially — going to meet Harry Anslinger many years later, and work with him. Billie was caught prostituting by the police, and once again, instead of rescuing her from being pimped and raped, they punished her.
Billie Holiday | Sutori
She was sent to prison on Welfare Island, and once she got out, she started to seek out the hardest and most head-blasting chemicals she could. At first her favourite was White Lightning, a toxic brew containing proof alcohol, and as she got older, she tried to stun her grief with harder and harder drugs. One night, a white boy from Dallas called Speck showed her how to inject herself with heroin.
She would still wake in the night screaming, remembering her rape and imprisonment. I am Billie Holiday. One day, starving, she walked a dozen blocks in Harlem, asking in every drinking hole if they had any work for her, and she was rejected everywhere. Desperate, she told the owner maybe she could sing.
He pointed her toward an old piano man in the corner and told her to give him a song. By the time she finished her next song, Body and Soul, there were tears running down their cheeks. She sang a moment behind the beat and lived a moment ahead of it. Another time in another bar, a group of soldiers and sailors started stubbing out their cigarettes on her mink coat. She handed the mink coat to a friend to hold, picked up a diamond-shaped ashtray, and laid the sailors out flat.
Yet when it came to the men in her life, this impulse to defend herself bled away. After her greatest performance at Carnegie Hall, he greeted her by punching her so hard in the face she was sent flying. Harry had heard whispers that this rising black star was using heroin, so he assigned an agent named Jimmy Fletcher to track her every move. Harry hated to hire black agents, but if he sent white guys into Harlem and Baltimore, they stood out straight away.
Jimmy was allowed through the door at the bureau, but never up the stairs. He would carry large amounts of drugs with him, and he was allowed to deal drugs himself so he could gain the confidence of the people he was secretly plotting to arrest. The next time he saw her, it was in a brothel in Harlem, doing exactly the same.
When Jimmy was sent to raid her, he knocked at the door pretending he had a telegram to deliver. Her biographer Julia Blackburn studied the only remaining interview with Jimmy Fletcher — now lost by the archives handling it — and she wrote about what he remembered in detail.
She let him in. But when she found out her friends in the jazz world were using the same drug, she begged them to stop. Never imitate me, she cried. She kept trying to quit. She would get her friends to shut her away in their houses for days on end while she went through withdrawal. Not long after, he ran into her in a bar and they talked for hours, with her pet Chihuahua, Moochy, by her side.
Confronted with a real addict, up close, the hatred fell away. But Anslinger was going to be given a break on Billie, one he got nowhere else in the jazz world. Billie had got used to turning up at gigs so badly beaten by Louis McKay they had to tape up her ribs before pushing her onstage. She was too afraid to go to the police — but finally she was brave enough to cut him off. When Billie was busted again, she was put on trial.
She stood before the court looking pale and stunned. She just wanted to be sent to a hospital so she could kick the drugs and get well. In all her time behind bars, she did not sing a note. Years later, when her autobiography was published, Billie tracked Jimmy Fletcher down and sent him a signed copy. She had written inside it: Some of the nicer ones have feelings enough to hate themselves sometime for what they have to do.
Billie was finally silenced. She had no money to look after herself or to eat properly. Another of her friends kept telling her she could save enough money to retire to a house with a garden where she could have babies. Do you think I can do it? But when she was forced to interact with people, she was becoming more and more paranoid.
If Jimmy Fletcher had been one of Them, who else was?
Billie Holiday & Louis McKay - Panache Report
She began to push away even her few remaining friends, because she was terrified the police would plant drugs on them, too — and that was the last thing she wanted for the people she loved. One day, Harry Anslinger was told that there were also white women, just as famous as Billie, who had drug problems — but he responded to them rather differently.
He called Judy Garland, another heroin addict, in to see him. As I sat in his archives, reading over the piles of fading papers that survive from the launch of the drug war, there was one thing I found hardest to grasp at first.
The arguments we hear today for the drug war are that we must protect teenagers from drugs, and prevent addiction in general. We assume, looking back, that these were the reasons this war was launched in the first place. But they were not. They crop up only occasionally, as asides. The main reason given for banning drugs — the reason obsessing the men who launched this war — was that the blacks, Mexicans and Chinese were using these chemicals, forgetting their place and menacing white people.
It took me a while to see that the contrast between the racism directed at Billie and the compassion offered to addicted white stars like Judy Garland was not some weird misfiring of the drug war — it was part of the point. You can be a great surfer, but you still need a great wave. In the run-up to the passing of the Harrison Act, the New York Times ran a story typical of the time.
It was the official reason why the police across the South increased the calibre of their guns.
It was more comforting to believe that a white powder was the cause of black anger, and that getting rid of the white powder would render black Americans docile and on their knees once again. Harry Anslinger did not create these underlying trends. To finish her offhe called for his toughest agent — a man who was at no risk of falling in love with her, or anyone else.
He became a sensation as the first and only white man ever to infiltrate a Chinese drug gang, and he even learned to speak in Mandarin so he could chant their oaths with them. This was one of the few places she could still perform, and she badly needed the money. She insisted to the police that she had been clean for over a year. But when the details were looked at later, there seemed to be something odd: Billie insisted the junk had been planted in her room by White, and she immediately offered to go into a clinic to be monitored: George White, it turns out, had a long history of planting drugs on women.
He was fond of pretending to be an artist and luring women to an apartment in Greenwich Village where he would spike their drinks with LSD to see what would happen. One of his victims was a young actress who happened to live in his building, while another was a pretty blond waitress in a bar. After she failed to show any sexual interest in him, he drugged her to see if that would change.
The prosecution of Billie went ahead. They sided with Billie against Anslinger and White, and found her not guilty. Share Short video on Billie Holiday's tough life and first introduction to Jazz and singing. In her difficult early life, Holiday found solace in music, singing along to the records of Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong. She followed her mother who had moved to New York City in the late s and worked in a house of prostitution in Harlem for a time.
AroundHoliday began singing in local clubs and renamed herself "Billie" after the film star Billie Dove. At the age of 18, Holiday was discovered by producer John Hammond while she was performing in a Harlem jazz club.
Singer Billie Holiday was tormented by anti-drug squad
Hammond was instrumental in getting Holiday recording work with an up-and-coming clarinetist and bandleader Benny Goodman. Known for her distinctive phrasing and expressive, sometimes melancholy voice, Holiday toured with the Count Basie Orchestra in The following year, she worked with Artie Shaw and his orchestra. Holiday broke new ground with Shaw, becoming one of the first female African American vocalists to work with a white orchestra.
Promoters objected to Holiday—for her race and for her unique vocal style—and she ended up leaving the orchestra out of frustration. A Rhapsody of Negro Life, which she sang what song? Ina cloud that had been gathering over Miss Holiday and which was to cover the rest of her career, burst on her. She was arrested for a narcotics violation and, at her own request, was committed to a Federal rehabilitation establishment at Alderson, W.
Ten days after her release Miss Holiday gave a concert at Carnegie Hall to a packed house but, although she appeared at concert halls in New York from time to time after that, she was not allowed to appear in New York night clubs.
As a result of her narcotics conviction, she could not get the necessary cabaret license. During the Nineteen Fifties Miss Holiday's voice began to lose its useful elasticity. This, combined with occasional brushes with narcotics agents, made her last years difficult, although she continued to record frequently.
Miss Holiday appeared in a film, "New Orleans," in and was featured in a Broadway revue for a short run a few years later.ME AND MY OLD VOICE: Billie Holiday in Her Own Words
In she made a tour of Europe and was featured in a widely acclaimed television program, "The Sound of Jazz," in She is survived by her husband, Louis McKay. A previous marriage, to Joe Guy, a trumpet player, ended in divorce. During the height of her career, only the most scandalous tabloids were covered Holiday's backstory; more legitimate publications often stayed away from her.
That avoidance was made easier by the fact that, even when she was at her most productive, her music didn't fit in with the popular styles of the time. Meeropol used the pseudonym "Lewis Allan" for the poem, which was set to music and performed at teachers' union meetings. It was eventually heard by Barney Josephson, the proprietor of Cafe Society, an integrated nightclub in Greenwich Village, who introduced it to Holiday. She performed it at the club inwith some trepidation, fearing possible retaliation.