Ruby Starr

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Ruby Starr, born Constance Henrietta Mierzwiak in Toledo, Ohio (November 30, 1949 - January 14, 1995),[1] was a rock singer and recording artist who attained national prominence in the 1970s and 1980s.

Childhood and Early Career[edit]

Known as "Connie" to her family, Starr began performing at the age of nine, singing country music under the stage name Connie Little. Her early bands included Connie and the Blu-Beats, The Downtowners and the Blue Grange Ramblers.[2][3]

Recording Artist[edit]

She joined the band Ruby Jones in 1969. In 1971 they were signed to Curtom Records and recorded their first album, Ruby Jones. Shortly after that album's release, Black Oak Arkansas lead vocalist Jim "Dandy" Mangrumwas playing at the Davenport, Iowa fairgrounds and saw Starr singing in a Bettendorf, Iowa, club and convinced her to join his band. At this point she assumed the stage name of Ruby Starr.

Starr toured with Black Oak Arkansas for several years at the height of their success. She was featured in their 1973 Top 30 single "Jim Dandy". In 1974, she began touring on her own again as Ruby Starr & Grey Ghost (members: Gary Levin, Marius Penczner, David Mayo and Joel Williams) and released a self-titled album in 1975 on Capitol Records. Her second album, Scene Stealer, also on Capitol Records, was released in 1976. During this time she continued to open for Black Oak Arkansas[4] and other acts such as Black Sabbath and Edgar Winter. Starr also toured with Blackfoot from 1977 to 1978. Her third and last album for Capitol, Smoky Places, was released in 1977.

By the late 1970s, Starr had made Milwaukee her home town and was a popular act in clubs in the region.[5] By the early 1980s, Starr had formed a new band called "Grey Star" by joining with a band that performed in and around Mayville, Wisconsin called "Lucy Grey". They issued several recordings which included 1981's Grey Star and 1983's Telephone Sex. Starr formed her final road band, "Henrietta Kahn", in the late 1980s.

Las Vegas Period[edit]

In the early 1990s, Starr quit the road and moved to Las Vegas, playing at casino/hotels on the Strip such as the Riviera and the Stardust as well as local clubs. During this period, The Ruby Star Band also performed as the opening act for Kansas, The Fabulous Thunderbirds and April Wine. Shortly after she was chosen to perform in the Country Legends show at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas, she learned she had cancer.[6]

Death[edit]

After being diagnosed with lung cancer and a brain tumor, Starr returned home to her family in Toledo where she died at age 45.[7] [8] After her death, several archival releases that featured Starr were issued, including the live Black Oak Arkansas recording, Live On The King Biscuit Flower Hour 1976, and a reissue of Ruby Jones's debut album, retitled as Stone Junkie. The song "Ruby," by Raging Slab, is in memory of her.

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

  • Ruby Jones (under the group name "Ruby Jones") (Curtom 1971)
  • Ruby Starr & Grey Ghost (Capitol 1975)
  • Scene Stealer (Capitol 1976)
  • Smokey Places (Capitol 1977)
  • Grey-Star by Grey-Star featuring Ruby Starr (R&C Emotion Records 1981)
  • Telephone Sex by Grey-Star featuring Ruby Starr (1983)
  • Stone Junkie (Sequel 2000) (re-release of the 1971 Ruby Jones album)

With Black Oak Arkansas[edit]

  • High on the Hog (Atco 1973)
  • Street Party (Atco 1974)
  • Balls Of Fire (MCA 1976)
  • 10 Yr. Overnight Success (MCA 1976)
  • Live On The King Biscuit Flower Hour 1976 (Capricorn 1998)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ohio Division of Vital Statistics; Ohio Department of Health
  2. ^ Famous Wisconsin Musicians, Susan Masino, Badger Books, 2003
  3. ^ Obituary, Toledo Blade, January 18, 1995: "Starr's Talent as Singer, Friend Always Shone Bright" by David Yonke
  4. ^ Bangor Daily News, December 13, 1976, "Leader Defends Singing Style" by Larry Mahoney
  5. ^ Obituary, The Milwaukee Journal, January 17, 1995, "As Ruby Starr, singer had big voice on local scene," by Mark Lisheron, retrieved 11/2/2013
  6. ^ Obituary, The Milwaukee Journal, op. cit.
  7. ^ Jones, Meg (1995-01-17). "Ruby Starr, 44, `gutsy, soulful' rock singer, dies". Milwaukee Sentinel. Retrieved 2009-02-08. 
  8. ^ Ohio Division of Vital Statistics; Ohio Department of Health

External links[edit]