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Rita Coolidge

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Rita Coolidge
Coolidge performing at an outdoor concert in Seattle in September 2002
Coolidge performing at an outdoor concert in Seattle in September 2002
Background information
Born (1945-05-01) May 1, 1945 (age 79)
Lafayette, Tennessee, U.S.
  • Singer
  • songwriter
Years active1969–present
(m. 1973; div. 1980)
Tatsuya Suda
(m. 2004; div. 2012)
Joe Hutto
(m. 2018)

Rita Coolidge (born May 1, 1945) is an American recording artist. During the 1970s and 1980s, her songs were on Billboard magazine's pop, country, adult contemporary, and jazz charts,[1] and she won two Grammy Awards with fellow musician and then-husband Kris Kristofferson.[2] Her recordings include "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher," "We're All Alone", "I'd Rather Leave While I'm in Love", and the theme song for the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy: "All Time High".

Life and career[edit]

Early life[edit]

Coolidge was born in Lafayette, Tennessee.[3] She is the daughter of Dick and Charlotte Coolidge, a minister and schoolteacher, with sisters Linda and Priscilla, and brother Raymond.[4] She is of Scottish ancestry. She attended Nashville's Maplewood High School and graduated from Andrew Jackson Senior High School in Jacksonville, Florida. Coolidge is a graduate of Florida State University, and a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority.[5]

Early career[edit]

After singing around Memphis (including a stint singing jingles), Coolidge was discovered by Delaney & Bonnie, who worked with her in Los Angeles.[5] There, she became a backing singer[6] for artists including Leon Russell, Joe Cocker, Harry Chapin, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Dave Mason, Graham Nash, and Stephen Stills.[7] She was featured in Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour and album, singing Russell's and Bonnie Bramlett's song "Superstar". Coolidge did not receive songwriting credits for "Superstar" which later became a hit for The Carpenters.[8]

She became known as "The Delta Lady" and inspired Russell to write a song of the same name for her.[9]


Coolidge also did not receive songwriting credits for the coda of the 1971 single "Layla" by Eric Clapton's band Derek and the Dominos.[10] In 2016, Coolidge stated that she recorded a demo with her boyfriend, the band's drummer Jim Gordon, before they went to England to record with Clapton. Once they met with Clapton, Coolidge played the piece she composed for him and she gave him a cassette.[8] Clapton, impressed by the piece, used it as part of the song in the ending section which she found out by hearing the song over a PA system a year later. She tried to contact Clapton, but was told by his manager Robert Stigwood, "What are you gonna do? You're a girl. You don't have money to fight this." She has not heard from Clapton himself but believes he is aware of the situation.[8]

Though only Gordon has been officially credited with writing the section, the band's keyboardist Bobby Whitlock claimed:

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.[11]

"Time" ended up on the 1973 album Chronicles by Booker T. and Priscilla.

Kris Kristofferson[edit]

Coolidge at Willie Nelson's 4th of July Picnic in 1972.

In November 1970, she met Kris Kristofferson at the Los Angeles airport when they were both catching the same flight to Tennessee. Instead of continuing to his intended destination in Nashville, he got off in Memphis with her. The two married in 1973, had a child in 1974, 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".[2]

She also had a credited role as Maria in the Sam Peckinpah directed Western film "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid" in 1973, where Kristofferson played the role of Billy the Kid.

Cashbox advertisement, June 25, 1977

Coolidge's greatest success on the pop charts came during 1977–1978 with four consecutive top 25 hits, remakes of Jackie Wilson's "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher", Boz Scaggs's "We're All Alone", the Temptations' "The Way You Do The Things You Do", and Marcia Hines's "You".[12] Coolidge and Kristofferson divorced in June 1980.

Later career[edit]

In 1992, Coolidge sang joint lead vocals with Roger Waters on the title track of his album Amused to Death.

She also was among the first hosts on VH1, a US cable network. In 2006, she recorded a standards album, And So Is Love with artwork by Clifford Bailey.[7]


In 1997, Coolidge was one of the founding members of Walela, a Native American-inspired music trio, that also included her sister 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.[13]

Walela means hummingbird in Cherokee. Coolidge considered this group important, not only in honoring her claimed Cherokee ancestors but also in bringing their culture to others. The trio performed at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.[14]


Her autobiography, Delta Lady: A Memoir, was published in April 2016.[15]

Personal life[edit]

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, Westwood, Los Angeles, on December 18, 1976


Coolidge had romantic liaisons with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash. Coolidge leaving Stills for Nash has been cited as a contributing factor behind the initial 1970 breakup of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.[16] She was the "sweet little Indian girl" named "Raven" in the song "Cowboy Movie" on David Crosby's album If I Could Only Remember My Name.[17]

Coolidge was also involved with Leon Russell and Joe Cocker. During the Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour, Coolidge's boyfriend at the time, Jim Gordon, assaulted her, resulting in a black eye for the rest of the tour. Coolidge ended the relationship and never spoke to him again.[10] Gordon was later diagnosed with schizophrenia and convicted of murdering his mother.[10]

Coolidge was married to Kris Kristofferson from 1973 to 1980.[1] Their daughter and her only child, Casey Kristofferson (also a musician), was born in 1974. Their marriage deteriorated after she miscarried her second child in 1977. In her memoir, Delta Lady, Coolidge described her marriage to Kristofferson as volatile due to his alcoholism and infidelity.[10] She revealed he was also emotionally abusive and would belittle her talent.[10] When they divorced she did not ask him for anything.[10] However, in 2016 Coolidge told People that she and Kristofferson still shared a bond.[18]

Coolidge married Tatsuya Suda, a world leader in computer architecture research, on June 19, 2004, in the Cook Islands.[19] Suda, a Japanese citizen, retired in 2010 after a long tenure as a professor at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (UC Irvine), when allegations of professional misconduct against him surfaced. Coolidge divorced Suda in 2012. In 2014, he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of receiving illegal payments.[20][21] Coolidge had lived in Fallbrook, California, where she painted and exhibited her work until 2017.[7]

In 2017 Coolidge rekindled a romantic relationship with Joe Hutto, a former college boyfriend. They married in 2018[22][23] and moved back to Tallahassee.[24]


In October 2014, Coolidge's sister, Priscilla, was murdered by her husband, Michael Siebert, in a murder-suicide.[10] The pain of that loss was exacerbated when Siebert's ashes were delivered to Rita's home and she had to dispose of them.[25]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Coolidge was inducted into the Southern Museum of Music Hall of Fame in 2015.[5]

Grammy Awards[edit]

Coolidge has won two Grammy Awards from her three nominations.[2]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1974 "From The Bottle To The Bottom" Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group Won
1975 "Loving Arms" Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group Nominated
1976 "Lover Please" Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group Won


Studio albums[edit]

List of studio albums, with selected chart positions, sales figures and certifications
Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications

Rita Coolidge 105 71
Nice Feelin'
  • Released: November 1971
  • Label: A&M Records
  • Formats: LP
The Lady's Not for Sale
  • Released: October 1972
  • Label: A&M, MFP
  • Formats: LP
46 27
Full Moon
(with Kris Kristofferson)
  • Released: September 1973
  • Label: A&M
  • Formats: LP
26 1 40 7
Fall into Spring
  • Released: April 1974
  • Label: A&M Records
  • Formats: LP
55 96 41
(with Kris Kristofferson)
  • Released: December 1974
  • Label: Monument Records
  • Formats: LP
103 19 99 81
It's Only Love
  • Released: November 1975
  • Label: A&M Records
  • Formats: LP
  • Released: March 1977
  • Label: A&M Records
  • Formats: LP
6 23 9 4 15 40 7
Love Me Again
  • Released: May 1978
  • Label: A&M Records
  • Formats: LP
32 26 39 51
Natural Act
(with Kris Kristofferson)
  • Released: December 1978
  • Label: A&M Records
  • Formats: LP
106 24 87 35
  • Released: September 1979
  • Label: A&M Records
  • Formats: LP
95 59 58 65
Heartbreak Radio
  • Released: August 1981
  • Label: A&M Records
  • Formats: LP
Never Let You Go
  • Released: October 1983
  • Label: A&M Records
  • Formats: LP
Inside the Fire
  • Released: 1984
  • Label: A&M Records
  • Formats: LP
Fire me Back
  • Released: 1990
  • Label: Attic
  • Formats: LP, CD
Dancing with an Angel
  • Released: July 21, 1991
  • Label: Attic
  • Formats: CD
Love Lessons
  • Released: 1992
  • Label: Caliber Records, Critique
  • Formats: CD
For You
  • Released: 1993
  • Label: Alpha
  • Formats: CD
Behind the Memories
Out of the Blues
  • Released: 1996
  • Label: Beacon
  • Formats: CD
  • Released: 1996
  • Label: Indelible Records
  • Formats: CD
Thinkin' About You
  • Released: 1998
  • Label: Innerworks
  • Formats: CD
And So Is Love
A Rita Coolidge Christmas
  • Released: 2012
  • Label: 429 Records
  • Formats: CD
Safe in The Arms of Time

Compilation albums[edit]

List of compilation albums, with selected chart positions, sales figures and certifications
Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications

All About Rita Coolidge
  • Released: 1979
  • Label: A&M Records
  • Formats: LP
Greatest Hits
(released as Fool That I Am in Australia)
  • Released: 1980
  • Label: A&M Records
  • Formats: LP
107 20
The Very Best of Rita Coolidge
  • Released: 1981
  • Label: A&M Records
  • Formats: LP
Love from Tokyo
  • Released: 1984
  • Label: A&M Records
  • Formats: LP
Classics Volume 5
  • Released: 1987
  • Label: A&M Records
  • Formats: LP
A&M Gold Series
  • Released: 1989
  • Label: A&M Records
  • Formats: CD
All Time High: Best of Rita Coolidge
  • Released: 1994
  • Label: A&M Records
  • Formats: CD
The Collection
Master Series
  • Released: 1999
  • Label: A&M Records
  • Formats: CD
20th Century Masters – The Millenium Collection
  • Released: 2000
  • Label: A&M Records
  • Formats: CD
Universal Masters Collection
  • Released: 2001
  • Label: A&M Records
  • Formats: CD
Delta Lady – The Rita Coolidge Anthology
  • Released: 2004
  • Label: A&M Records
  • Formats: CD


Year Single Peak chart positions Certification Album
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 Huey, Steve. "Rita Coolidge - Music Biography, Streaming Radio and Discography - AllMusic". AllMusic.
  2. ^ a b c "Rita Coolidge". Recording Academy Grammy Awards. 19 November 2019.
  3. ^ Abjorensen, Norman (2017). Historical Dictionary of Popular Music. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 113. ISBN 9781538102152.
  4. ^ Charlotte Coolidge (obituary), Mendocino Beacon, August 23, 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c "Rita Coolidge - Southern Museum of Music Artist Hall of Fame Spotlight". Southern Museum of Music. Retrieved 2019-11-10.
  6. ^ "Rita Coolidge Biography". theuncool.com.
  7. ^ a b c Palisin, Steve (April 17, 2014). "Rita Coolidge shares Myrtle Beach area memories and more ahead of concert in Brunswick County". The Sun News.
  8. ^ a b c "Delta Spirit: Rita Coolidge Reflects on Delaney & Bonnie, Mad Dogs & Englishmen, "Layla" and More". Relix Media. October 25, 2016.
  9. ^ Greenwald, Matthew. "Delta Lady - Leon Russell - Song Review". AllMusic.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Conroy, Catherine (April 12, 2016). "Rita Coolidge's tales of pain and hedonism from rock's inner circle". The Irish Times.
  11. ^ "Layla's 40th: The Where's Eric! Interview With Bobby Whitlock". Where's Eric!. Archived from the original on 2020-10-24. Retrieved 2015-06-09.
  12. ^ a b "Rita Coolidge Chart History". Billboard.
  13. ^ Huey, Steve. "Walela - Music Biography, Streaming Radio and Discography - AllMusic". AllMusic.
  14. ^ "Walela Biography, Songs, & Albums". AllMusic. Retrieved 2021-09-06.
  15. ^ Coolidge, Rita; Walker, Michael (2016). Delta Lady: A Memoir. New York: Harper. ISBN 978-0062372048.
  16. ^ Zimmer, Dave, and Diltz, Henry (1984). Crosby Stills & Nash: The Authorized Biography (First edition), St. Martin’s Press, ISBN 0-312-17660-0.
  17. ^ Browne (2019). Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young: The Wild, Definitive Saga of Rock's Greatest Supergroup (First edition), Da Capo Press, ISBN 978-0306903281.
  18. ^ Dodd, Johnny (March 23, 2016). "'70s Songbird Rita Coolidge on Her Former Husband Kris Kristofferson: We Still 'Have a Bond That Is Beyond Any Kind of Understanding'". People.
  19. ^ "Rita Coolidge Marriage". American Profile. 2005-08-07. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  20. ^ "Former UCI Professor Pleads Guilty to Felony Conflict of Interest". Voice of OC. 27 February 2014. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  21. ^ "Vocal supporter - The San Diego Union-Tribune". utsandiego.com. Archived from the original on May 30, 2015.
  22. ^ "Rita Coolidge launching series of US concerts tonight in support of new album - Music News - ABC News Radio". ABC News Radio. Archived from the original on 2018-07-14. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  23. ^ "Rita Coolidge, Joe Hutto join Authors in Apalach event". Tallahassee Democrat. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  24. ^ Flanigan, Tom. "Rita Coolidge Will Call Tallahassee Home. Again". Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  25. ^ Stephenson, Hannah (May 9, 2016). "'1970s star Rita Coolidge talks music and mourning after sister's murder'". The Irish News. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  26. ^ a b "Rita Coolidge Album Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  27. ^ a b "Rita Coolidge Album Chart History: Top Country Albums". Billboard. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
  28. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 73. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  29. ^ a b "CAN Charts > Rita Coolidge". RPM. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  30. ^ a b Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970-2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
  31. ^ a b "Dutch Charts: Rita Coolidge". NET. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  32. ^ a b "New Zealand Charts: Rita Coolidge". Official New Zealand Music Chart. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  33. ^ a b "United Kingdom Charts: Rita Coolidge". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  34. ^ a b c d e "Searchable Database: Rita Coolidge". Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  35. ^ a b "Awards from Oz" (PDF). Cash Box. February 7, 1981. p. 31. Retrieved December 4, 2021 – via World Radio History.
  36. ^ a b c "Searchable Database: Rita Coolidge". Official Charts Company (BPI). Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  37. ^ a b c "Searchable Database: Rita Coolidge". Music Canada (MC). 8 December 1989. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  38. ^ 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