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on 19 July 2012
Like many people I first became aware of Anita O'Day from the film Jazz on a Summers Day which I saw sometime in the late 1970s. After exploring some of her recordings from the 1950 and 60s I became a confirmed fan and have remained so ever since. She disliked being called a singer and preferred the title "song stylist" but however she is described Anita O'Day is among the greatest female jazz vocalists of all time and in my view the only white singer worthy to stand alongside Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holliday. Her autobiography is painfully frank, at times harrowing and sometimes laugh out loud funny. It's a real roller-coaster of a book, just like Anita's life, and I could hardly put it down. As well as being Anita's own story, High Times, Hard Times is a fascinating insight into the American jazz scene with dozens of famous musicians from Baby Dodds and Charlie Parker to Judy Garland and Benny Goodman drifting in and out of the picture. Many of them, though not Goodman whom Anita roundly disliked, were afflicted by the same drug addiction which so nearly cost her her life. Anita was mercurial, unpredictable, difficult and for 14 years hopelessly addicted to heroin (she estimates she shot about $400,000 into her arm) but she survived against all the odds, cleaned up and somehow reached the age of 87. This book is a worthy testament to a truly great musician and survivor. Highly recommended.
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on 8 April 2010
If you get to the end of this, you'll be a little in love - if you aren't already - with Anita O'Day. She was a genius, and a mad one, who stayed the course despite doing everything possible to finish herself off! It'll make you want to go out and buy all her recordings and then await the DVD of Jazz on a Summer Day in which she kicks the cr.. out of Sweet Georgia Brown. Oh so stunning. One of the great Jazz biographies. If you know nothing about the jazz of the forties, you will after reading this. Enjoy.
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on 23 November 2010
I've only recently become a fan of this amazing jazz singer, I only heard of her through some BBC4 documentary awhile ago, which I can't remember the title of; she is not as well known as the likes of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, in the UK anyway, which is a great shame.
I fell in love with her voice and her style of delivery. Wanting to find out more about her I watched the documentary 'The Life of A Jazz Singer' (which is also great btw) specifically about her.
This book is a worthwhile read to any fan of hers, or jazz in general, I was hooked the moment I started reading it, which is something! as I don't read that often.
What a life she led, unbelievable situations and struggles against the odds, makes me laugh all these little 'celebs'of today writing about their lives after 5 minutes of 'fame'.
She was around 60 when this came out in 1981, she 'had' something to talk about, pity she is not more widely known, an amazing life and singer too!
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on 4 October 2014
this is frankly a no bulls***, no holds barred expurgation of a life delivered with a directness, a wit, and a class that underscores much of her incredible vocal stylings. from horror stories of her youth (her epiglottis being mistakenly snipped off in a routine tonsil operation, rendering her in her future career unable to hit a couple of notes and forced her to learn a different vibrato technique, horrific abortion stories), to her successes as a teen dance marathon contestant, to burgeoning success in Gene Krupa's band, to full-on hardcore druggery for a good long part of her life and career. but all the while she somehow maintained her dignity and class, her iconic set at Newport in '58, a case in point, illustrating that jazz and smack can work for some pretty well. however you get the shocking downside too, she just tells it like it is, and makes no bones about a lifestyle the Richard Burton would wince at. this is a great read, from the only white broad that ever came close to Billie.
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on 28 March 2011
Introduced to Anita in the 70's when I chanced upon the Jazz on a Summer's Day late one night on BBC 2 . I have been a fan even since. This is a great read, Anita tells it like it is or ...was. To me she is jazz, the attitude, the hell raising, the drug taking and the music.

Sex 'n' Drugs and Jazz.

Check out her recordings with Oscar Peterson she is dynamite.
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on 27 August 2014
I love Anita O'Day as a singer and a musician and was interested to know more about life as a performer and many great musicians she worked with. Unfortunately, the book is much more about her struggle with drug problems and law than about music. if you interested in drug addicts and their sordid life, by all means get it. Those who want to know more about her music making in the important period in American Jazz Music are better served by the documentary " Anita O'Day- the life of a jazz singer" which I recommend wholeheartedly.
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on 7 September 2013
Great insight to the jazz era in America. Exciting and full of wonder. Lots of name dropping though which wouldn't mean much to someone who didn't know their Jazz.
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on 19 July 2013
Arrived on time in perfect condition. Autobiography written in jazz language almost as good as her wonderful singing especially in Jazz on a Summer's Day
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on 21 July 2014
great if you love bio,s and Anitas style of singing
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on 14 January 2017
Great informative
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