- Entertainment and Media
Ella Mae Morse - 1940s R & B Queen - Oh By the Way, She was White
Ella Mae Morse has a star on Hollywood Boulevard because singers and musicians knew and loved her - even if the general public never embraced her as a huge star.
They should have, because in 1942 she had the very first million selling release ever for Capitol Records - the Cow Cow Boogie with Freddie Slack’s piano and orchestra.
She was seventeen when she had that first hit, and already a veteran singer who was hired by Jimmy Dorsey when she was just 14 years old. She had told Dorsey that she was 19. He fired her when he found out her true age.
She was already a local radio star, having hosted her own show in Paris, Texas for years.
In 1943 Ella topped the R & B charts with Shoo Shoo Baby - oh by the way, she was ‘white’, but her music knew no color.
At the end of World War II, Ella again teamed up with Mr. Freddie (Slack) for one of the greatest pre- rock songs, the fabulous House of Blue Lights.
R & B, Hip Hop, Rock, Boogie - Defined by Ella
Capitol Records 1st. Million Seller
Ella covers the Drifters -1953- Money Honey
Ella's "Blacksmith Blues" was her last top ten hit, but it was just the first hit for the man who arranged it. Capitol records was so impressed with this piece that they hired the arranger as their number one A & R man. He would soon go on to record Frank Sinatra's seminal Capitol concept albums. (In the Wee Small Hours, Come Fly With Me, Nice and Easy Etc.) His name - Nelson Riddle.
About the same time, a young Memphis boy was listening to Ella and he later said that she was one of his greatest influences. His name - Elvis Presley.
The music landscape was changing as Rock n Roll began to dominate the radio airwaves. Ella was tiring of trying to stay on top in terrain that wasn't as comfortable as it was in the 1940s. She was also seeking personal happiness in a new marriage. She wanted a stable home and family - so she stopped recording in 1957 and retired to relative obscurity in Arizona where she occasionally worked with friends like Martha Raye and Ray McKinley.
She passed away at the age of 75 in 1999, leaving a legacy that is just now being uncovered and discovered by 'Generation Youtube'.