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Born Norma Egstrom in Jamestown, North Dakota, she suffered the death of her mother at the age of four and endured a difficult stepmother after her father remarried. Given her sense of swing by listening to Count Basie on the radio, she taught herself to sing and made her radio debut at the age of 14. She made the jump to Fargo (where she was christened Peggy Lee), then to Minneapolis and St. Louis to sing with a regional band. Lee twice journeyed to Hollywood to make her fortune, but returned unsuccessful from both trips.
She finally got her big break in 1941, when a vocal group she worked with began appearing at a club in Chicago. While there, she was heard by Benny Goodman, whose regular vocalist Helen Forrest was about to leave his band. Lee recorded with Goodman just a few days later, debuting with the popular "Elmer's Tune" despite a good deal of nerves. That same year, several songs became commercial successes including "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)" and "Winter Weather." In 1943, "Why Don't You Do Right" became her first major hit, but she left the Goodman band (and the music industry altogether) later that year after marrying Goodman's guitarist, Dave Barbour.
After just over a year of domestic life, Peggy Lee returned to music, first as part of an all-star jazz album. Then, in late 1945, Capitol signed her to a solo contract and she hit the charts with her first shot, "Waitin' for the Train to Come In." Lee continued to score during the late '40s, with over two dozen chart entries before the end of the decade, including "It's a Good Day," "Mañana (Is Soon Enough for Me)" -- the most popular song of 1948 -- and "I Don't Know Enough About You." Many of her singles were done in conjunction with Barbour, her frequent writing and recording partner.
After moving to Decca in 1952, Peggy Lee scored with the single "Lover" and an LP, Songs From Pete Kelly's Blues recorded with Ella Fitzgerald (both singers also made appearances in the film). She spent only five years at Decca however, before moving back to Capitol. There, she distinguished herself through recording a wide variety of material, including songs -- and occasionally, entire LPs -- influenced by the blues, Latin and cabaret as well as pop. Lee also used many different settings, like an orchestra conducted by none other than Frank Sinatra for 1957's The Man I Love, the George Shearing Quintet for 1959's live appearance Beauty and the Beat, Quincey Jones as arranger and conductor for 1961's If You Go, and arrangements by Benny Carter on 1963's Mink Jazz. Barbour's problems with alcoholism ended their marriage, though they remained good friends until his death in 1965.
Peggy Lee was an early advocate of rock and made a quick transition into rock-oriented material. Given her depth and open mind for great songs no matter the source, it wasn't much of a surprise that she sounded quite comfortable covering the more song-oriented end of late-'60s rock, including great choices by Jimmy Webb, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Burt Bacharach, Randy Newman, Goffin & King and John Sebastian. She nearly brushed the Top Ten in 1969 with Leiber & Stoller's "Is That All There Is?" She continued recording contemporary material until 1972's Norma Deloris Egstrom From Jamestown, North Dakota brought her back to her roots. It was her last LP for Capitol, however. Lee recorded single LPs for Atlantic, A&M, Polydor UK and DRG before effectively retiring at the beginning of the 1980s. She returned in 1988 with two LPs for Music Masters that revisited her earlier successes. Her last album, Moments Like This, was recorded in 1992 for Chesky. Her voice was effectively silenced after a 1998 stroke, and she died of a heart attack at her Bel Air home in early 2002. ~ John Bush
Track List: Peggy Lee In London
Track List: At Last - The Lost Radio Recordings
Track List: Walt Disney Records The Legacy Collection: Lady And The Tramp
Track List: Peggy Lee - A Christmas Gift For You - Looking Back
Track List: Pretty Eyes
Track List: Make It With You
Track List: Is That All There Is? (Remastered)
Track List: Somethin' Groovy
Track List: Where Did They Go?
Track List: Peggy At Basin Street East (The Unreleased Show Closing Night February 8, 1961)
Track List: Ole Ala Lee
Track List: Two Shows Nightly
Track List: Bridge Over Troubled Water (2002 Remastered Version)
Track List: Peggy Lee Love Songs
Track List: Peggy Lee Sings Leiber & Stoller
Track List: It's A Good Day
Track List: Rare Gems And Hidden Treasures (2000 Digital Remaster)
Track List: A Natural Woman
Track List: Love Songs
Track List: Lover
Track List: 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best Of Peggy Lee
Track List: Sugar 'N' Spice
Track List: Trav'lin' Light
Track List: In Love Again!
Track List: Guitars A La Lee
Track List: The Best Of Miss Peggy Lee
Track List: Latin Ala Lee
Track List: Extra Special! (Remastered)
Track List: The Best Of Peggy Lee
Track List: Lady And The Tramp (Original Soundtrack)
Track List: Basin Street Proudly Present Peggy Lee
Track List: Great Ladies Of Song / Spotlight On Peggy Lee
Track List: Moments Like This
Track List: Close Enough For Love
Track List: Mirrors
Track List: Let's Love
Track List: Norma Deloris Egstrom From Jamestown
Track List: Big $pender
Track List: Then Was Then Now Is Now!
Track List: In The Name Of Love
Track List: Mink Jazz
Track List: I'm A Woman
Track List: Bewitching Lee!
Track List: Blues Cross Country (Remastered)
Track List: Basin Street Proudly Presents Peggy Lee (Live)
Track List: If You Go
Track List: All Aglow Again!
Track List: I Like Men!
Track List: Miss Wonderful
Track List: Things Are Swingin'
Track List: Jump For Joy
Track List: The Man I Love
Track List: Dream Street
Track List: Black Coffee With Peggy Lee
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