Jazz singer Billie Holiday died on July 17, 1959. She was 44.
Holiday was born April 7, 1915 in Baltimore, Maryland. She began her singing career in 1933 in Harlem nightclubs. In 1935, she teamed up with Teddy Wilson, and from 1935 to 1942 she made some of her best recordings.
She sang with Count Basie and Artie Shaw in the late 1930ís. In 1939, she recorded Strange Fruit, a strong anti-racism song which became a part of her nightclub act.
From 1944 to 1949, she sang on the Decca Record label. She recorded Lover Man (her biggest hit), Donít Explain, Good Morning Heartache and Crazy He calls Me.
She became addicted to heroin in 1947 and spent most of that year in jail. The notoriety of her drug habit seemed to enhance her career for a time, but the drug problems and excessive drinking took a toll in the 1950ís.
Holiday collapsed in 1959 due to liver problems. While on her deathbed, she was even placed under arrest for heroin possession.
She died July 17, 1959.