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Lavern Baker: About

LaVern Baker (November 11, 1929 - March 10, 1997) was an American Rhythm & Blues singer, originally billed as "Little Miss Sharecropper", then "Bea Baker". She had taken the first name "LaVern" by 1952, when she began recording with Todd Rhodes and his band.

Born Delores Baker (she is occasionally known as Delores Williams because of an early marriage to a Eugene Williams) in Chicago, Illinois; by 1953 Baker had signed with Atlantic Records, and immediately began releasing hits, such as "Soul on Fire" and "Tweedlee Dee". Georgia Gibbs scored the bigger hit with her version of "Tweedlee Dee", for which Baker unsuccessfully attempted to sue her.

In addition to singing, Baker also did some work with Ed Sullivan and Alan Freed on TV and in films. In the late 1960s, Baker fell ill after a trip to Vietnam to entertain American soldiers, and she stayed in semi-retirement until 1988. (A friend recommended that she stay on as the entertainment director at a Marine Corps niteclub at the Subic Bay Naval Base, and that's what she had done for 20 years.) At that point, she performed at Madison Square Garden for Atlantic Records' 40th anniversary. She then worked on the soundtrack to Dick Tracy and appeared in Black & Blue, a Broadway musical, and released a comeback disc that sold moderately well.

In 1991, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Her song "Jim Dandy" was named one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

LaVern Baker died from coronary complications in 1997, and was interred in the Maple Grove Cemetery in Kew Gardens, New York.  


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