—Eleanora Fagan is Billie’s Real name. The name Billie came from a silent movie star Billie Dove.
—She was one of the first ‘reality stars’
—”Strange Fruit” was one of her biggest yet controversial hits: Columbia Records didn’t want her to record the song, but ended up releasing the song on the Commodore record label in 1939 and it sold a million copies.
—Her nickname ‘Lady Day’ came from Lester Young (whom was her best friend!) They were very close
—Billie and Lester met at a Harlem jam session in the early 30s and worked together in the Count Basie band and in nightclubs on New York’s 52nd St. At one point Lester moved into the apartment Billie shared with her mother, Sadie Fagan. The story goes that Lester was a great fan of Sadie’s home cooking and tired of living in rat-infested New York hotel rooms. He was just part of the family. It was a pleasant change to have a gentleman around the house, and Lester was always a gentleman. more
—Billie insisted their relationship was strictly platonic. She gave Lester the nickname “Prez” after President Franklin Roosevelt, the “greatest man around” in Billie’s mind. Lester in turn gave Billie her famous nickname, “Lady Day.”
Born on April 7, 1915, Philadelphia, PA and died on July 17, 1959, NYC Health Hospital, New York, NY