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Rose Murphy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Rose Murphy
Born(1913-04-28)April 28, 1913
Xenia, Ohio, U.S.
DiedNovember 16, 1989(1989-11-16) (aged 76)
New York City, U.S.
GenresVocal jazz
Years active1930s–1980s

Rose Murphy (April 28, 1913 – November 16, 1989)[1] was an American jazz pianist and singer, famous for the song "Busy Line" and her unique vocal style.[2]

Music career[edit]

She was born in Xenia, Ohio, United States.[1] Described by AllMusic's Scott Yanow as having "a unique place in music history",[1] Murphy was known as "the chee chee girl" because of her habit of singing "chee chee" in many of her numbers.[1] She was also known as "the girl with the pale pink voice".

Murphy began her musical career in the late 1930s, playing intermission piano for such performers as Count Basie, and became popular in the United States and United Kingdom in the late 1940s.[2] She is best known for her high-pitched singing style, which incorporated scat singing, giggling, and percussive sound effects.[1] "Busy Line", one of her most well-known songs, made use of perhaps her most famous vocal sound effect: the 'brrp, brrrp' of a telephone ring.[3] A version of the song by Peter Skellern was later used in 1990 by BT Cellnet in a television commercial[4] which was such a success that RCA reissued the original recording.[2] Princess Margaret became a fan after "Busy Line" became a hit in England. She attended Murphy's concerts in London, imitated her while playing the piano and sang "Busy Line" at parties.

From the 1950s to the 1980s, Murphy continued to play at many of the top clubs in New York, such as the Cookery, Michael's Pub and Upstairs At the Downstairs. She was normally accompanied by bassist Slam Stewart or Morris Edwards. These were interspersed with engagements in London and tours of Europe.

Personal life and death[edit]

During a two-week engagement at Hollywood Roosevelt's Cinegrill in June 1989, Murphy became ill and returned to New York City. She died in New York aged 76 on November 16, 1989, and, though married four times, left no direct descendants.[2] Her final marriage, from 1950 to 1977, was to Eddie Matthews,[5] a businessman who, from 1928 to 1933, had been married to Ethel Waters. Rose Murphy and her radio broadcasts in the UK are referred to in the novel, Under the Pink Light, by the British author Brian Hurst.

Selected discography[edit]

  • Rose Murphy and Quartette (1955)
    Rose Murphy and Quartette
    Royale 1835[6]
  • Not Cha-Cha, but Chi-Chi (1957)
    Rose Murphy
    Verve Records
  • Jazz, Joy and Happiness (1962)
    Rose Murphy
    United Artists
    ULP 1046[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Rose Murphy Biography, Songs, & Albums". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d Brethour, Ross, sleevenotes to Busy Line, a Rose Murphy best of compilation, Body and Soul, BS2418, 2003
  3. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 1781. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  4. ^ Busy Line Cellnet Ad – via YouTube.
  5. ^ Rose Murphy is Back With That Old Chee‐Chee," by John S. Wilson, New York Times, August 3, 1979
  6. ^ Rose Murphy and Quartette (Media notes). Rose Murphy. Record Corp. of America. 1955. Retrieved January 16, 2023 – via Internet Archive.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  7. ^ Not Cha-Cha, but Chi-Chi (Media notes). Rose Murphy. Los Angeles: Verve Records. 1957. Retrieved January 16, 2023 – via Internet Archive.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  8. ^ Cherrington, George & Knight, Brian (1963). Jazz Catalogue 1963. London: The Jazz Journal Ltd. p. 132. OCLC 1035932237. Retrieved January 16, 2023 – via Internet Archive.