Rose Murphy

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Rose Murphy
Also known as "The Chee Chee Girl"
Born (1913-04-28)April 28, 1913
Xenia, Ohio
Died November 16, 1989(1989-11-16) (aged 76)
New York City, New York
Genres Jazz
Notable instruments

Rose Murphy (April 28, 1913 - November 16, 1989.) [1] was an American pianist and vocalist most famous for the song 'Busy Line'.[1]


Described by Allmusic’s Scott Yanow as having “a unique place in music history”,[2] Rose was known as “the chee chee girl” thanks to her habit of regularly singing the phrase “chee chee” in many of her numbers.[2] She was also known as 'The Girl with the Pale Pink Voice.' She began her musical career in the late 1930s, playing intermission piano for such performers as Count Basie, and achieved strong popularity in both the US and UK in the late 1940s.[1] Despite being a very talented pianist, she is best known for her high-pitched singing style, which incorporated a range of jazz style ad lib scat, giggling, and percussive sound effects.[2] ‘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. A version of the song was later used in 1990 by BT (British Telecom) in one of their television adverts. The advert was such a success that RCA reissued Rose’s original recording of the song.[1]

Her recording of "Pennies From Heaven" was used on the soundtrack of the otherwise-silent award-winning 2011 film The Artist.

From the fifties to the eighties, Rose continued to play at "many of the top clubs of New York, like the Cookery, Michael’s Pub, Upstairs At the Downstairs", and was "usually accompanied by bassist Slam Stewart or Morris Edwards."[1] These were interspersed with engagements in London and tours of the Continent.[1] During a two week engagement at Hollywood Roosevelts Cinegrill in June 1989, she became ill and returned to New York City.[1]

She died in New York aged 76 on November 16, 1989, and, though married four times, left no direct descendants.[1] Her final marriage was to "Pretty Eddie Murphy," a creole businessman who had previously been married to Ethel Waters. She was devoted to him and he was her business manager until his death in the 1970s.

Rose was often imitated by other entertainers. Ella Fitzgerald does an imitation of Rose singing "I Can't Give You Anything but Love" on one of her albums. Rose was a favorite of the late Princess Margaret, who became a fan after "Busy Line" became a hit in England. Princess Margaret attended all of Rose's concerts in London and even did imitations of Rose playing the piano and singing "Busy Line" at parties.

Rose was one of three Americans invited to perform at festivities celebrating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Brethour, Ross, sleevenotes to Busy Line, a Rose Murphy best of compilation, Body and Soul, BS2418, 2003
  2. ^ a b c Rose Murphy at AllMusic