Book cover, 22.6k WISHING ON THE MOON - The Life and Times of Billie Holiday

by: Donald Clarke
publisher: Viking Pinguin Books
ISBN number: 0-670-83771-7

Billie Holiday has been described as the most influential singer of the century. She fascinates not only for her genius but through the perception of her as tragically self-destructive, an icon of pain and suffering. She was a drug addict, an alcoholic and had a predilection for exploitative, violent men. Yet her life was far more complex than that suggests, and Wishing on the Moon is the first authoritative biography, revealing the truth behind the myth.

Donald Clarke has had access to unpublished interviews with people who knew Billie from her childhood in the streets and goodtime houses of Baltimore, through the early days of success in New York to the years of fame - and some happiness - and her decline and death at the age of forty-four. Throughout her short life she veered between fierce independence and pathetic reliance, falling in and out of love recklessly, cultivating a staggering promiscuity. The recollections of those who knew her well agree that she was adored, had a genius for friendship and affection and was intoxicatingly charismatic.

There are many surprises in Billie's story, beginning with the truth about her birth and ending with the truth about her death. She was an expert fabricator and her ghosted autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues, was said to have been unread by its supposed author. Clarke untangles this web of confusion - both deliberate and unintentional. He discusses her friendships and relationships, as well as the highs and lows of her musical career, bringing his incomparable knowledge of the music of the period to depict the times in which she lived, with flair and vividness.

With access to an unrivalled biographical archive, and with wonderful contributions from friends, lovers and musicians, Wishing on the Moon is the definitive account of one of the greatest performers of the century, the woman who was immortalized as the one and only 'Lady Day'.

Wishing On The Moon
Addendum - These items represent the changes between the hardback edition and the softback.
by: Donald Clarke

On page 34 reset the entire second paragraph ('Also 1956 anyway.') with the following matter:
And if we needed proof of sexual abuse, we now have that too. Lady's autobiography said that she had been sent to the Good Shepherd Home was because she had been raped; we know that she was initially sent there because she wasn't attending school, but British journalist Stuart Nicholson has discovered that the story about the rape is true. Early on 26 December 1926 Sadie and Wee Wee came home from a night out to find a Wilbert Rich having sexual intercourse with Eleanora. Later that day she was examined by doctors, Rich was arrested and Eleanora was sent back to the Good Shepherd Home as a 'State Witness', and no doubt also (as Nicholson points out in his book Billie Holiday) because the quality of her 'care and guardianship' was once more in question. She was held there until 27 February 1927, and apparently baptised again; meanwhile, on 18 January, Rich was found guilty of 'Rape -- Carnal Knowledge of 14-16 year old' (although Eleanora was only eleven) and received a custodial sentence of three months.
On page 37, reset two sentences just below mid-page ('She got in trouble again . . . Welfare') as follows:
Stuart Nicholson has discovered that Sadie and Eleanora were both arrested as prostitutes in the same brothel in 1929. Eleanora was sent to Welfare

Page 355: Dinah Washington died in 1962, not '63

For the DUTCH readers a review as published in the NRC.

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