Celebrating Rickie Lee Jones: A Life in Song


Rickie Lee Jones. Early Life and Background:

Born in 1954, in Chicago, Illinois, Rickie Lee Jones was destined for a life filled with music. Growing up in a household with a strong musical influence, she was exposed to various genres and artists from a young age. Her father was a musician, and her mother was a singer, nurturing her love for the arts. This early exposure provided the foundation for the remarkable career that would later unfold.

Musical Journey:

By the time she was 19, Rickie was living in Los Angeles, waiting tables and occasionally playing music in out of the way coffee houses and bars. All the while, she was developing her unique aesthetic: music that was sometimes spoken, often beautifully sung, and while emotionally accessible, she was writing lyrics as taut and complex as any by the great American poet, Elizabeth Bishop. In Rickie’s voice and songs, we saw smoky stocking seams, love being everything but requited. And it was during these years that the song, “Easy Money,” caught the attention of one musician and then the music industry. The song was recorded by Lowell George, the founder of the band, Little Feat. He used it on his solo album.  Shortly thereafter, Warner Brothers auditioned Rickie and quickly signed her to the label.

Chuck E's In Love:

In 1979, Rickie Lee Jones released her eponymous debut album, catapulting her to fame with the hit single “Chuck E’s in Love.” This song not only showcased her sultry, jazz-infused voice but also her knack for crafting evocative, storytelling lyrics. The album was an instant success, earning her critical acclaim and setting the stage for a career marked by genre-blurring creativity.

She's as much of a hit as her songs:

The American culture was instantly intrigued. Rickie Lee seemed as much of a hit as her song. She was the alternative to punk/new wave, representing the revitalization of the dying art of the pop song. She liked pop and said so. Rickie’s work was the amalgamation of jazz and rock and pop, a percolating zygote that made itself into a brave new world called Rickie lee Jones. American culture was changed.

Awards and Recognition:

Rickie Lee Jones’ exceptional talent was recognized with the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1980. This accolade solidified her status as a rising star in the music industry. Beyond the Grammy win, her work has garnered praise from fans and critics alike, establishing her as a true musical visionary.

The IT girl of the '80s:

Rickie Lee Jones was the IT girl of the 80’s, trend setter, beautiful big smile and long blonde hair, gyrating teenager in a spandex one-piece, a temptress in lacy elbow length gloves and heels–still a popular rock costume today. She abandoned the “dress like a guy to be taken seriously” maxim and she ushered in a new epoch in singer/songwriters–the pop singer. Still, she is often associated with a musical generation 10 years her senior. 

The Duchess of Coolsville:

Rickie Lee Jones was the “Duchess of Coolsville” (Time magazine). But she was the Queen of Cool, an uncomfortable crown for a woman devoted to her muse.

Legacy and Impact:

While Rickie Lee Jones’ chart-topping hits and Grammy win certainly highlight her success, her true legacy lies in her ability to connect with listeners on a profound level. Her songs, infused with emotion and introspection, continue to resonate with fans worldwide. Her music transcends generations, reminding us of the timeless power of authentic storytelling through song.

Throughout her career, Rickie Lee Jones has collaborated with a diverse range of artists.  She has lent her voice and songwriting expertise to various projects, each marked by her signature style and creative genius. Her collaborations have spanned the spectrum of music, from rock and jazz to experimental and beyond.

Pieces of Treasure: The Latest Offering from Rickie Lee Jones

Rickie Lee has recently released her new album Pieces of Treasure, a reunion with her lifelong friend, legendary producer Russ Titelman, co-producer of Jones’ star-making debut and Pirates.  Throughout her career, the Grammy-winning singer songwriter has interpreted an extraordinarily wide range of songs and has recorded celebrated jazz-leaning albums including Girl at Her Volcano and Pop Pop, but until now, she had never devoted an entire album to the American Songbook.

To learn more about Rickie Lee Jones, head for her website here

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