Lillian Briggs

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Lillian Briggs (born Lillian Biggs; June 3, 1932 - April. 11, 1998) was an American rock 'n roll performer and musician.

Lillian Briggs
Lillian Briggs - The Sands Hotel, Las Vegas (1956) 001.jpg
Lillian Briggs - The Sands Hotel, Las Vegas (1956)
Born (1932-06-03)June 3, 1932
Died April 11, 1998(1998-04-11) (aged 65)
Miami, Florida
Occupation Singer, musician

Lillian Briggs was the first woman to achieve super-star status at the dawn of rock 'n roll in the early 1950s, as evidenced by the fact that soon after embarking upon her career, she was named "The Queen of Rock & Roll" by The Sydney Morning Herald [1] during the same period that the media began referring to Elvis Presley as the "King" of the new musical genre.

Biography[edit]

Briggs was raised in Allentown, Pennsylvania. In the early 1950s she worked as a laundry truck driver to support herself and finance The Downbeats, a band she formed that drew audiences both on live radio and at public venues in the Allentown area.

In 1952, she joined Joy Cayler's All-Girl Orchestra as a singer and trombonist. Two years later, appearing with Caylor's Orchestra at the Arcadia Ballroom in New York City, she performed a rousing version of "Shake, Rattle and Roll" and was discovered by celebrity manager/talent scout Jack Petrill. As a preferred client of Petrill, her solo career was launched. Briggs made her presence known on the touring circuit by working non-stop at sock hops, nightclubs and doing radio interviews as well as driving herself coast-to-coast from one engagement to the next in her white Cadillac convertible. Also in 1952, Alan Freed asked her to appear in his New York City stage shows, and her popularity in these shows led to her signing with Epic Records in 1954.

Her first single was 1955's "I Want You to Be My Baby"; the song sold over 1 million copies[2] and hit No. 18 on the Billboard Hot 100.[3] During the peak of her career (1954–64) she headlined at concert venues around the world, starred at the Las Vegas hotels and appeared on countless TV shows including Jack Paar's The Tonight Show, The Mike Douglas Show, American Bandstand and The Steve Allen Show, and won a part in the 1961 Jerry Lewis movie The Ladies Man. Lillian Briggs also recorded several songs on the soundtracks of three Hollywood films: The Fugitive Kind, Mr. Wonderful and My Sister Eileen. In 1965 she appeared as a contestant on What's My Line?;[4] at the time, she was giving trombone lessons to one of the show's panelists, Arlene Francis.[5]

Lillian continued to record on Sunbeam, Paramount, Coral and Phillips while touring extensively until the early 1970s when she relocated to Miami Beach to become a co-partner in Turnberry Isle, a lucrative mixed-use luxury condominium resort. She was extremely successful as a businesswoman.[2] Her yacht, Monkey Business, was the boat upon which Gary Hart was photographed with Donna Rice, ending the former's presidential ambitions.[2] She died of lung cancer in Miami, April 11, 1998.[2]

A comprehensive CD collection of her recordings was released in 2013 by Jasmine Records [6]

References[edit]