Posted by themusicsover on August 7, 2010
December 23, 1935 – August 7, 1984
Esther Phillips was one of the premier female R&B singers of the 1950s. It was R&B impresario Johnny Otis, who first recognized Phillips’ talent when, at 14, she won a talent show at his night club. Otis produced her earliest recordings and put her in his traveling R&B show under the name of Little Esther. Phillips recorded several hits in the early ’50s, but an addiction to drugs slowed her descent down and eventually sidelined her in 1954. She mounted a comeback once cleaned up in the early ’60s and began releasing hit records again. One recording in particular, a version of the Beatles’ “And I Love Him” prompted the Fab Four to fly her to England to perform. The disco era was kind to Phillips as she was able to adapt her sound to appease a new generation of dancing fans. She had some of her biggest successes during that time. Unfortunately, she could never quite shake her addictions. She died at the age of 48 of liver and kidney failure attributed to many years of alcohol and heroin dependency.
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