Annie Ross

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Annie Ross
Birth nameAnnabelle Allan Short
Born (1930-07-25) 25 July 1930 (age 89)
London, England, UK
Occupation(s)Singer, actress
Years active1937–present
Associated actsLambert, Hendricks & Ross

Annabelle Allan Short[1] (born 25 July 1930), known professionally as Annie Ross, is a British-American singer and actress, best known as a member of the jazz vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks & Ross.

Early life[edit]

She was born in Mitcham, London, the daughter of Scottish vaudevillians John "Jack" Short and Mary Dalziel Short (née Allan). Her brother was entertainer Jimmy Logan.[2] At the age of four, she traveled to New York by ship with her family; she later recalled that they "got the cheapest ticket, which was right in the bowels of the ship".[3]

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, Scottish-American singer and actress Ella Logan, to Los Angeles, and her mother, father and brother returned to Scotland.[3] At the age of seven, she sang "The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond" in Our Gang Follies of 1938, and played Judy Garland's character's sister in Presenting Lily Mars (1943).[4][5]

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.[5][6]

At the end of tenth grade, she left school, changed her name to Annie Ross, and went to Europe, where she established her singing career.[4] She changed her surname to Ross during 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".[7]


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.[3][8][9] 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 magazine's New Star award.[4][8][10]

In February 1956, the British music magazine NME reported that Ross's song "I Want You to Be My Baby" was banned by the BBC due to the lyric "Come upstairs and have some loving".[11]

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[8] and in 1964 opened a nightclub in London. Annie's Room hosted Joe Williams, Nina Simone, Stuff Smith, Blossom Dearie, Anita O'Day, Jon Hendricks, Erroll Garner.

Her adulthood film roles include Liza in the film Straight On till Morning (1972), Claire in Alfie Darling (1976), Diana Sharman in Funny Money (1983), Vera Webster in Superman III (1983), Mrs. Hazeltine in Throw Momma from the Train (1987), Rose Brooks in Witchery (1988), Loretta Cresswood in Pump Up the Volume (1990), Tess Trainer in Robert Altman's Short Cuts (1993), and Lydia in Blue Sky (1994). She also appeared as Granny Ruth in the horror films Basket Case 2 (1990) and Basket Case 3: The Progeny (1991).

She provided the speaking voice for Britt Ekland in The Wicker Man (1973), and Ingrid Thulin's singing voice in Salon Kitty (1976). On stage, she appeared in Cranks (1955; London and New York City), The Threepenny Opera (1972), The Seven Deadly Sins (1973) 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).

Personal life[edit]

In 1949, Ross had a brief affair with drummer Kenny Clarke. This affair produced a son, Kenny Clarke Jr. (born 1950), who was raised by Clarke's brother and his wife.[4][12] 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 substituting for her on tour. After a performance by the trio in London in May 1962, she remained in London to confront her drug addiction.[4]

In 1963, she married actor Sean Lynch; they divorced in 1975, and he died in a car crash soon afterwards.[4][5] By that time, she had also lost her home and declared bankruptcy.[4]

She became a United States citizen in 2001.[3]

Awards and honours[edit]

Ross received the ASCAP Jazz Wall of Fame award (2009), the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters' Award (2010), and the MAC Award for Lifetime Achievement (2011).

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.[13] The play transferred to the Brockley Jack Theatre in London that same year, with Ross being played by Betsy Pennington.[14]

A documentary about Ross's life, entitled No One But Me, premiered at the Glasgow Film Festival in 2012.[15]


  • New Sounds from France with Jack Dieval, James Moody (Prestige, 1950)
  • Annie by Candlelight with Tony Crombie (Pye, Nixa, 1956)
  • Cranks with John Cranko, John Addison (His Master's Voice, 1956)
  • Sing Along with Basie with Count Basie, Dave Lambert, Jon Hendricks, Joe Williams (Roulette, 1959)
  • Gypsy with Buddy Bregman (World Pacific, 1959)
  • A Gasser! with Zoot Sims (World Pacific, 1959)
  • Annie Ross Sings a Song with Mulligan! with Gerry Mulligan (World Pacific, 1959)
  • Sings a Handful of Songs (Ember, 1963)
  • Loguerhythms: Songs from the Establishment with Tony Kinsey (Transatlantic, 1963)
  • Portrait of Annie Ross (Pye, 1965)
  • Recorded at the Tenth German Jazz Festival in Frankfurt with Pony Poindexter (SABA, 1966)
  • Sir William Walton's Facade with Cleo Laine, John Dankworth (Fontana, 1967)
  • Fill My Heart with Song (Decca, 1968)
  • Singin' 'n' Swingin with Dorothy Dunn, Shelby Davis (Savoy, 1969)
  • You and Me Baby (Decca, 1971)
  • In Hoagland with Hoagy Carmichael, Georgie Fame (Bald Eagle, 1981)
  • Like Someone in Love (Bulldog, 1983)
  • Music Is Forever (DRG, 1996)
  • Live in London (Harkit, 2003)
  • To Lady with Love (Red Anchor, 2014)

With Dave Lambert and Jon Hendricks

  • Sing a Song of Basie (ABC-Paramount, 1958)
  • The Swingers! with Zoot Sims (World Pacific, 1959)
  • Sing Along with Basie with Count Basie, Joe Williams (Columbia, 1959)
  • The Hottest New Group in Jazz (Columbia, 1959)
  • Sing Ellington with Ike Isaacs (Columbia, 1960)
  • High Flying with Ike Isaacs (Columbia, 1961)
  • The Real Ambassadors with Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Carmen McRae (Columbia Masterworks, 1962)
  • Basie Live in Person (Natural Organic, 1979)
  • Everybody's Boppin (Columbia, 1989)


Year Title Role Notes
1943 Presenting Lily Mars Rosie
1972 Straight On till Morning Liza
1972 Bluebeard Voice, Uncredited
1974 The Beast Must Die Caroline Newcliffe Voice, Uncredited
1974 Dead Cert Mrs. Mervyn Uncredited
1976 Alfie Darling Claire
1976 Salon Kitty Kitty Kellermann Singing voice
1979 Yanks Red Cross Lady
1983 Superman III Vera Webster
1983 Funny Money Diana Sharman
1987 Throw Momma from the Train Mrs. Hazeltine
1988 Trading Hearts Deputy
1988 Witchery Rose Brooks
1990 Basket Case 2 Granny Ruth
1990 Pump Up the Volume Loretta Creswood
1991 Basket Case 3: The Progeny Granny Ruth
1992 The Player Herself
1993 Short Cuts Tess Trainer / Vocals - Annie Ross & The Low Note Quintet
1994 Blue Sky Lydia


  1. ^ "Annie Ross on piano jazz". NPR. 17 December 2010. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  2. ^ Annie Ross profile,; accessed 12 November 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d Don Ball, ed. (22 September 2009). "Interview by Molly Murphy for the National Endowment for the Arts". National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Gavin, James (3 October 1993). "A Free-Spirited Survivor Lands on Her Feet". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
  5. ^ a b c "Jazz icon Annie Ross discusses her life and why she'd do it all again". Daily Record. 16 December 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  6. ^ Russell, Sue. "Ross, Annie (Annabelle Short)". Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  7. ^ Simpson, Anne (14 June 2011). "A Gift from the Gods". Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  8. ^ a b c Bush, John. "Annie Ross biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
  9. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Wardell Gray". Allmusic. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
  10. ^ "Annie Ross". B.H. Hopper Management. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
  11. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books. p. 23. CN 5585.
  12. ^ Kernfeld, Barry (1999). "Clarke, Kenny". American National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/anb/9780198606697.article.1802594.
  13. ^ "Star Wars fan gets phonecall from Princess Leia". Kirkintilloch Herald. 11 July 2006. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
  14. ^ "Productions". Brockley Jack Theatre. Archived from the original on 6 March 2010. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
  15. ^ "Musician/Actress Annie Ross Coming to the Festival". 9 February 2012. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 19 February 2012.

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