Rita Coolidge

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Rita Coolidge
Rita Coolidge, 2002 - cropped.jpg
Coolidge performing at an outdoor concert in Seattle in September 2002
Background information
Birth name Rita Coolidge
Born (1945-05-01) May 1, 1945 (age 70)
Origin Lafayette, Tennessee, United States
Genres Pop, adult contemporary, country, Native American,[1] soft rock
Occupation(s) Singer–songwriter
Instruments Vocals, piano
Years active 1969–present
Labels A&M, Monument, Attic, Alpha, Spectrum, Pony Canyon, Caliber/Critique, Beacon, Innerworks, Concord
Associated acts Eric Clapton, Leon Russell, Kris Kristofferson, Joe Cocker
Website www.ritacoolidge.com

Rita Coolidge (born May 1, 1945) is an American recording artist and songwriter. During the 1970s and 1980s, she charted hits on Billboard's pop, country, adult contemporary and jazz charts[1] and won two Grammy Awards with fellow musician and former husband Kris Kristofferson.

Early life[edit]

Coolidge at Willie Nelson's 4th of July Picnic in 1972.
Coolidge with Kris Kristofferson at the private party after the premiere of the movie A Star Is Born, on the third floor of Dillon's Disco on December 18, 1976.

Coolidge was born in Lafayette, Tennessee. Coolidge attended Nashville's Maplewood High School. She graduated from Andrew Jackson Senior High in Jacksonville, Florida. She is a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority.[2] She is of Scottish and Cherokee ancestry.[3]


Coolidge is a graduate of Florida State University. After singing around Memphis (including a stint singing jingles), she was discovered by Delaney & Bonnie, who took her to Los Angeles where, besides her work with Delaney & Bonnie, she became a popular background singer on many other people's albums.[4] She sang for Leon Russell, Joe Cocker, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Dave Mason, Graham Nash, and Stephen Stills.[5] She was featured in Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour and album, singing Russell's and Bonnie Bramlett's song "Superstar." She became known as "The Delta Lady" and inspired Russell to write a song of the same name for her.[6]

In November 1970, she met Kris Kristofferson at the Los Angeles airport when they were both catching the same flight to Tennessee. He got off in Memphis with her, rather than continue to his intended destination in Nashville. The two married in 1973 and recorded several duet albums, which sold well and earned the duo a Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1974 for From the Bottle to the Bottom, and in 1976 for Lover Please.

Coolidge's greatest success on the pop charts came during 1977–1978 with four consecutive top 25 hits, covers of Jackie Wilson's "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher", Boz Scaggs' "We're All Alone", The Temptations' "The Way You Do The Things You Do", and Marcia Hines' "You".

Coolidge also was among the first hosts on VH1. In 2006, Coolidge recorded a standards album, And So Is Love.[5]


In the recording of the original Classic Rock hit "Layla" by Eric Clapton's band Derek and the Dominoes in 1970, Clapton returned to the studio where he heard the band's drummer Jim Gordon playing a piano piece he had allegedly composed himself separately. Clapton, impressed by the piece, convinced Gordon to allow it to be used as part of the song in the coda section. Though only Gordon has been officially credited with this part, the band's keyboardist Bobby Whitlock claims, "Jim took that piano melody from his ex-girlfriend Rita Coolidge. I know because in the Delaney & Bonnie days, I lived in John Garfield's old house in the Hollywood Hills and there was a guest house with an upright piano in it. Rita and Jim were up there in the guest house and invited me to join in on writing this song with them called "Time." Her sister Priscilla wound up recording it with her husband, Booker T. Jones (of Booker T. & the M.G.'s). Jim took the melody from Rita's song and didn't give her credit for writing it. Her boyfriend ripped her off."[7] "Time" ended up on the 1973 album "Chronicles" by Booker T. and Priscilla. Jim Gordon was later convicted of killing his mother in 1983 after becoming schizophrenic and is still incarcerated as of 2015.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Coolidge is the daughter of "Dick" and Charlotte Coolidge, a minister and schoolteacher, with sisters Linda and Priscilla, and brother Raymond.[9] Coolidge was married to Kris Kristofferson from 1973 to 1980.[1] They have one daughter, Casey. Coolidge previously had romantic liaisons with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash; her leaving Stills for Nash has been cited as a contributing factor behind the initial 1970 breakup of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.[10] She was also involved with Leon Russell and Joe Cocker during their Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour. Coolidge married Tatsuya Suda on June 19 2004 in the Cook Islands: Suda is a Japanese citizen who retired in 2010 after a tenure of over twenty-five years as a professor at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (UC Irvine).[11][12]

Rita's sister Priscilla Coolidge was also a singer & recording artist. Priscilla married Booker T. Jones[13] of the popular '60s R&B band Booker T & The MG's in 1969, then married TV journalist/broadcaster/reporter Ed Bradley[14] in 1981, then married Michael Seibert. Seibert & Priscilla were found dead in their home in October 2014 from what police called a murder-suicide allegedly perpetrated by Michael Seibert.[15]

Coolidge now lives in Fallbrook, California. She is currently a painter and has exhibited her work.[5] Coolidge is also a sister of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority.

It was announced in September 2014 that Coolidge had contracted with HarperCollins to write her autobiography for publication in 2015: being co-written with Michael Walker, this memoir has the working title Delta Lady.[16]


In 1997, Coolidge was one of the founding members of Walela, a Native American music trio, that also included Priscilla and Priscilla's daughter Laura Satterfield. The trio released studio albums in 1997 (Walela) and 2000 (Unbearable Love), a live album and DVD (Live in Concert) in 2004 and a compilation album (The Best of Walela) in 2007.[17] Walela means hummingbird in Cherokee. Coolidge considered this group important, not only in honoring her Cherokee ancestors but also in bringing their culture to others. Also as part of her Native American heritage, she performed with Robbie Robertson, who is Mohawk, at the 2002 Winter Olympics.[5]


Albums (North American)[edit]

Year Album Peak positions Label
US US Country CAN
1971 Rita Coolidge 105 71 A&M
Nice Feelin' 135
1972 The Lady's Not for Sale 46 27
1974 Fall into Spring 55 41
1975 It's Only Love 85
1977 Anytime...Anywhere 6 23 4
1978 Love Me Again 32 39
1979 Satisfied 95 58
1980 Greatest Hits 107 47
1981 Heartbreak Radio 160
1983 Never Let You Go
1984 Inside the Fire
1992 Love Lessons Caliber/Critique
1996 Out of the Blues Beacon
1998 Thinkin' About You Innerworks
2005 And So Is Love Concord
2012 A Rita Coolidge Christmas 429 Records

Albums with Kris Kristofferson[edit]

Year Album Peak positions Label
US Country US CAN
1973 Full Moon 1 26 7 A&M
1974 Breakaway 19 103 81 Monument
1978 Natural Act 24 106 A&M

International albums[edit]

Year Album Label
1990 Fire Me Back Attic
1991 Dancing with an Angel
1993 For You Alpha
1995 Behind the Memories Pony Canyon

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Album Label
1979 All About Rita Coolidge (Japanese release) A&M
1980 Greatest Hits
1987 Classics Volume 5
1991 A&M Gold Series (West German release)
1994 All Time High: Best of Rita Coolidge
1995 The Collection (Australian release) Spectrum
1999 Master Series A&M
2000 20th Century Masters - The Millenium Collection
2001 Universal Masters Collection
2004 Delta Lady - The Rita Coolidge Anthology


Year Single Peak chart positions Album
UK[18] AU
1969 "Turn Around and Love You" 96 single only
1971 "I Believe in You" 38 16 Rita Coolidge
1972 "Fever" 76 The Lady's Not for Sale
1973 "My Crew"A flip 38
"Whiskey, Whiskey" 106
"A Song I'd Like to Sing" (w/Kris Kristofferson) 49 12 92 53 3 54 97 Full Moon
1974 "Loving Arms" (w/Kris Kristofferson) 86 25 98 83 9 96
"Mama Lou" 94 Fall Into Spring
"Rain" (w/Kris Kristofferson) 44 87 40 Breakaway
1975 "Lover Please" (w/Kris Kristofferson) 42
1977 "(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher" 2 5 1 3 48 6B Anytime...Anywhere
"We're All Alone" 7 1 82 5 1 6 32
1978 "The Way You Do the Things You Do" 20 9 16 6 74
"Words" 25
"You" 25 3 17 1 Love Me Again
"The Jealous Kind" 63
"Love Me Again" 68 20 83 73 35
"Slow Dancer" 60
1979 "Hello, Love, Goodbye" 27
"One Fine Day" 66 15 89 4 68 Satisfied
"I'd Rather Leave While I'm in Love" 38 3 32 87 1 24
1980 "Somethin' Bout You Baby I Like"
(w/Glen Campbell)
42 39 60 36 23 Somethin' Bout You Baby I Like
(Glen Campbell album)
"Fool That I Am" 46 15 72 52 Coast to Coast soundtrack
"We Could Stay Together" (w/Booker T. Jones) 60 The Best of You (Booker T. Jones album)
1981 "Let's Go Dancing" (w/Booker T. Jones) 60 Satisfied
"The Closer You Get" 103 16 Heartbreak Radio
1983 "Lake Freeze" Lake Freeze - The Raccoons Songtrack
"All Time High" 36 1 38 1 75 80 Octopussy soundtrack
"Only You" 37 Never Let You Go
1984 "Something Said Love" 15 Inside the Fire
1990 "I Stand in Wonder" 49 21 Fire Me Back


  1. ^ a b c Steve Huey. "Rita Coolidge - Music Biography, Streaming Radio and Discography - AllMusic". AllMusic. 
  2. ^ Accomplished Alpha Gams, Alpha Gamma Delta fraternity.
  3. ^ "Rita Coolidge Biography". Musicianguide.com. Retrieved 2010-04-10. 
  4. ^ "Rita Coolidge Biography". theuncool.com. 
  5. ^ a b c d Palisin, Steve (April 17, 2014). "Rita Coolidge shares Myrtle Beach area memories and more ahead of concert in Brunswick County". The Sun News. 
  6. ^ Matthew Greenwald. "Delta Lady - Leon Russell - Listen, Appearances, Song Review - AllMusic". AllMusic. 
  7. ^ "Layla’s 40th: The Where’s Eric! Interview With Bobby Whitlock". Where's Eric!. 
  8. ^ "30 Years Ago: Legendary Drummer Jim Gordon Murders His Mother". Ultimate Classic Rock. 
  9. ^ Charlotte Coolidge (obituary), Mendocino Beacon, 23 August 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
  10. ^ Zimmer, Dave, and Diltz, Henry (1984). Crosby Stills & Nash: The Authorized Biography (First edition), St. Martin’s Press, ISBN 0-312-17660-0.
  11. ^ Tribune, Chicago. "Rita Coolidge marriage". Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  12. ^ "Vocal supporter - The San Diego Union-Tribune". utsandiego.com. 
  13. ^ Andrew Hamilton. "Booker T. & Priscilla - Booker T. & Priscilla - Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards - AllMusic". AllMusic. 
  14. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/10/arts/television/10bradley.html?pagewanted=all Ed Bradley obituary by the NY Times
  15. ^ "Murder-suicide shocks Sunset Hills neighborhood - www.toacorn.com - Thousand Oaks Acorn". toacorn.com. 
  16. ^ "Rita Coolidge to open up about famous romances in memoir". Daily Express (Express.co.uk). Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  17. ^ Steve Huey. "Walela - Music Biography, Streaming Radio and Discography - AllMusic". AllMusic. 
  18. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 119. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Sheena Easton
For Your Eyes Only, 1981
James Bond title artist
Octopussy ("All Time High"), 1983
Succeeded by
Duran Duran
A View to a Kill, 1985