|Birth name||Annabelle Allan Short|
25 July 1930 |
London, England, UK
|Associated acts||Lambert, Hendricks & Ross|
She was born as Annabelle Allan Short, in Mitcham, London, the daughter of Scottish vaudevillians Jack Short and May Dalziel Short (née Allan). Her brother was entertainer Jimmy Logan. At the age of four, she went to New York in an immigration ship with her family; she later recalled that they "got the cheapest ticket, which was right in the bowels of the ship".
Shortly after arriving in the city, she won a token contract with MGM through a children's radio contest run by Paul Whiteman. She subsequently moved with her aunt Ella Logan to Los Angeles, and her mother, father and brother returned to Scotland to be with the rest of their family. At the age of seven, she sang "The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond" in Our Gang Follies of 1938, and played Judy Garland's sister in Presenting Lily Mars (1943). At the age of 14, she wrote the song "Let's Fly", which won a songwriting contest and was recorded by Johnny Mercer and The Pied Pipers. At the end of tenth grade, she left school, changed her name to Annie Ross, and went to Europe, where she quickly established her singing career. She decided to change her surname to Ross on the plane trip to Prestwick; in a 2011 interview, she said: "My aunt was very fanciful and she said I had an Irish grandmother called Ross, so that's where that surname came from".
In 1952, Ross met Prestige Records owner Bob Weinstock, who asked her to write lyrics to a jazz solo, in a similar way to King Pleasure, a practice that would later be known as vocalese. The next day, she presented him with "Twisted", a treatment of saxophonist Wardell Gray's 1949 composition of the same name, a classic example of the genre. The song, first released on the 1952 album King Pleasure Sings/Annie Ross Sings, was an underground hit, and resulted in her winning Down Beat's New Star award. Her first solo album, Singin' and Swingin' (1952), was recorded in New York with members of the Modern Jazz Quartet. Other albums include Annie by Candlelight (1956), Sings a Song with Mulligan (1958) with baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker on trumpet, A Gasser! (1959) with Zoot Sims, In Hoagland (1981) with Georgie Fame and Hoagy Carmichael, and Music Is Forever (1995) featuring Tommy Flanagan on piano.
She recorded seven albums with Lambert, Hendricks & Ross between 1957 and 1962. Their first, Sing a Song of Basie (1957), was to have been performed by a group of singers hired by Jon Hendricks and Dave Lambert with Ross brought in only as vocal consultant. It was decided that the trio should attempt to record the material and overdub all the additional vocals themselves, but the first two tracks were recorded and deemed unsatisfactory so they ditched the dubbing idea. The resulting album was a success, and the trio became an international hit. Over the next five years, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross toured all over the world and recorded such albums as Lambert, Hendricks, & Ross! (aka The Hottest New Group in Jazz, 1959), Sing Ellington (1960), High Flying (1962), and The Real Ambassadors (1962), written by Dave Brubeck and featuring Louis Armstrong and Carmen McRae.
Ross left the group in 1962 and, in 1964, opened her own nightclub in London. Annie's Room featured performances by Joe Williams, Stuff Smith, Blossom Dearie, Anita O'Day, Jon Hendricks, Erroll Garner, and Ross herself. A compilation album of Ross's 1965 performances from Annie's Room was released on CD in 2006.
Some notable film roles that she played as an adult include Vera Webster in Superman III (1983), Mrs. Hazeltine in Throw Momma from the Train (1987), Loretta Cresswood in Pump Up the Volume (1990), Lydia in Blue Sky (1994), and most notably as Tess Trainer in Robert Altman's Short Cuts (1993).
She provided the speaking voice for Britt Ekland in The Wicker Man (1973). On stage, Ross appeared in Cranks (1955) in both London and New York City, The Threepenny Opera (1972) with Vanessa Redgrave, The Seven Deadly Sins at the Royal Opera House, Kennedy's Children (1975) at Arts Theatre, London, Side by Side by Sondheim, and in the Joe Papp production of The Pirates of Penzance (1982) with Tim Curry.
In 1949, Ross had a brief affair with drummer Kenny Clarke. This affair produced a son, Kenny Clarke Jr, who was brought up by Clarke's family. During her time with Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, she became addicted to heroin, and in the late 1950s had an affair with the comedian Lenny Bruce, who was also having drug problems. By 1960, Carol Sloane was regularly substituting for her on tour. After a performance by the trio in London in May 1962, she stayed there to kick the habit.
She became a US citizen in 2001.
Honours and tributes
In July 2006 a one-woman play entitled TWISTED: The Annie Ross Story by Brian McGeachan premiered at The Space Theatre in London, starring Verity Quade. It focused on her stormy relationship with her aunt, Broadway legend Ella Logan, her brief affair with the comedian Lenny Bruce and her addiction to heroin. The play transferred to The Brockley Jack Theatre in London that same year, with Ross being played by Betsy Pennington.
- Singin' and Swingin' (with Dorothy Dunn and Shelby Davis) (1952)
- King Pleasure Sings / Annie Ross Sings (1952)
- Tony Crombie and His Orchestra (1954) (Decca DFE6247)
- Annie by Candlelight (1956)
- Nocturne for Vocalist (EP) (1956)
- Sings a Song with Mulligan! (1958)
- A Gasser! (with Zoot Sims) (1959)
- Gypsy (1959)
- Loguerhythms (1962)
- Sings a Handful of Songs (1963)
- Facade (1967)
- You and Me Baby (Live at Hampstead Theatre) (1970)
- In Hoagland (with Hoagy Carmichael and Georgie Fame) (1981)
- Music Is Forever (1995)
- Cool for Kids (2001)
- Let Me Sing (2005)
Lambert, Hendricks & Ross albums
- Sing a Song of Basie (1957)
- Sing Along with Basie (1958)
- The Swingers! (1958)
- Lambert, Hendricks, & Ross! (aka The Hottest New Group in Jazz) (1959)
- Sing Ellington (1960)
- The Real Ambassadors (with Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, and Carmen McRae) (1962)
- High Flying (aka The Way-Out Voices of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross) (1962)
- Annie Ross & Pony Poindexter (1967)
- You and Me Baby (1971)
- Annie Ross in Poland,1965 (2002)
- Live in London,1965 (2006)
- Cranks (Original London Cast Recording) (1955)
- Short Cuts (Soundtrack) (1993)
- Everybody's Boppin' (1990)
- Twisted - The Best of Lambert, Hendricks, & Ross (1992)
- Skylark (combines Annie by Candlelight and Nocturne for Vocalist) (1996)
- The Hottest New Group in Jazz (combines Lambert, Hendricks, & Ross, Sing Ellington, and High Flying) (1996)
- A Handfull [sic] of Songs...and More (combines Sings a Handful of Songs and four previously unreleased tracks recorded live in Tel Aviv in 1956) (2000)
- Twisted (2008)
- Improvisations for the Human Voice (2009)
- Zoot Sims Meets Lambert, Hendricks, & Ross. Los Angeles 1959 (2010)
- Four Classic Albums (combines Annie by Candlelight, Sings a Song with Mulligan, A Gasser, and Gypsy) (2011)
- Birthname per GRO at Find My Past.co.uk; accessed 5 October 2014.
- Annie Ross profile at Film Reference.com
- Don Ball, ed. (22 September 2009). "Interview by Molly Murphy for the National Endowment for the Arts". National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
- Gavin, James (3 October 1993). "A Free-Spirited Survivor Lands on Her Feet". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
- "Jazz icon Annie Ross discusses her life and why she'd do it all again". Daily Record. 16 December 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
- Russell, Sue. "Ross, Annie (Annabelle Short)". Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
- Simpson, Anne (14 June 2011). "A gift from the gods". The Herald. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
- Bush, John. "Annie Ross biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-11-13.
- Yanow, Scott. "Wardell Gray". Allmusic. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
- "Annie Ross". B.H. Hopper Management. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
- Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 23. CN 5585.
- "Star Wars fan gets phonecall from Princess Leia". Kirkintilloch Herald. 11 July 2006. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
- "Productions". Brockley Jack Theatre. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
- "Musician/actress Annie Ross coming to the Festival". Glasgow Film Festival. 9 February 2012. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
- Harvey, Adam; Hyman, Dick (March 2007). The soundtracks of Woody Allen: a complete guide to the songs and music in every film, 1969–2005. McFarland. pp. 50–. ISBN 978-0-7864-2968-4. Retrieved 18 December 2012.