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Dinah Washington

Background information
Birth name Ruth Lee Jones
Also known as Queen of the Blues
Born August 29, 1924(1924-08-29)
Origin Tuscaloosa, Alabama, U.S.
Died December 14, 1963 (aged 39)
Genres Blues, R&B, Jazz
Occupations Singer
Years active 1943–1963
Labels Keynote, Mercury,
EmArcy, Roulette

Dinah Washington (August 29, 1924 – December 14, 1963) was a blues, R&B and jazz singer. She is a 1986 inductee of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.[1] Washington was well known for singing torch songs.[2] A 40-song box set titled "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" was released in 1999.


Personal life

Washington was married eight times and divorced seven times, while having several lovers, including, according to Patti Austin, Quincy Jones[3]. She had two children. Her husbands were John Young (1942–43), George Jenkins (1949), Walter Buchanan (1950), Eddie Chamblee (1957), Raphael Campos (1957), Horatio Maillard (1959–60), Jackie Hayes (1960), and Dick "Night Train" Lane (1963).

Dinah and the Allegros

In 1962, Dinah hired a backing trio that called themselves the Allegros. The male trio consisted of Jimmy Thomas on drums, Earl Edwards on sax, and Jimmy Sigler on organ. Edwards was eventually replaced by John Payne on sax. A Variety writer praised their vocals as "effective choruses"[4] Although Dinah died within a few years after hiring the trio, they became close to the singer and saw her the night she died.


Very early on the morning of December 14, 1963, Dinah's eighth husband, NFL player Dick "Night Train" Lane went to sleep with his wife and awoke later to find Dinah slumped over and not responsive. Doctor B. C. Ross came to the scene to pronounce her dead[5]. An autopsy later showed a lethal combination of Secobarbital and Amobarbital which contributed to her untimely death at the age of 39. Dinah Washington is buried in the Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois.

Selected awards and recognitions


Grammy Award

Year Category Title Genre
1959 Best Rhythm & Blues Performance What a Diff'rence a Day Makes R&B

Grammy Hall of Fame

Recordings by Dinah Washington were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, which is a special Grammy award established in 1973 to honor recordings that are at least twenty-five years old, and that have "qualitative or historical significance."[6]

Year Title Genre Label Year Inducted
1959 Unforgettable Pop (Single) Mercury 2001
1954 Teach Me Tonight R&B (Single) Mercury 1999
1959 What a Diff'rence a Day Makes Traditional Pop (Single) Mercury 1998

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame listed a song of Dinah Washington as one of the 500 songs that shaped rock.[7]

Year Recorded Title Genre
1948 Am I Asking Too Much? R&B

Honors and Inductions

  • In 1993, the U.S. Post Office issued a Dinah Washington 29 cent commemorative postage stamp.
  • In 2008, the city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Washington's birthplace, renamed the section of 30th Avenue between 15th Street and Kaulton Park "Dinah Washington Avenue."[8] The unveiling ceremony for the new name took place on March 12, 2009, with Washington's son Robert Grayson and three of her grandchildren, Tracy Jones, Tera Jones, and Bobby Hill Jr., in attendance.[9]
  • In 2005, the Board of Commissioners renamed a park, near where Washington had lived in Chicago in the 1950s, Dinah Washington Park in her honor.[10]
Year Title Result Notes
1993 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inducted Early Influences
1984 Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame Inducted




Year Song Peak chart positions
1944 "Salty Papa Blues" 8
"Evil Gal Blues" 9
1948 "Ain't Misbehavin'" 6
"West Side Baby" 7
"Walkin' and Talkin'" 13
"I Want To Cry" 11
"Resolution Blues" 15
"Am I Asking Too Much" 1
"It's Too Soon To Know" 2
1949 "You Satisfy" 8
"Baby Get Lost" 1
"Good Daddy Blues" 9
"Long John Blues" 3
1950 "I Only Know" 3
"It Isn't Fair" 5
"I Wanna Be Loved" 22 5
"I'll Never Be Free" 3
"Time Out For Tears" 6
1951 "Harbor Lights" 10
"My Heart Cries For You" 7
"I Won't Cry Anymore" 6
"Cold Cold Heart" 3
1952 "Wheel of Fortune" 3
"Tell Me Why" 7
"Trouble In Mind" 4
"New Blowtop Blues" 5
1953 "TV is the Thing This Year" 3
"Fat Daddy" 10
1954 "I Don't Hurt Anymore" 3
"Dream" 9
"Teach Me Tonight" 23 4
1955 "I Concentrate on You" 11
"I Diddie" 14
"If It's the Last Thing I Do" 13
"That's All I Want from You" 8
"You Might Have Told Me" 14
1956 "I'm Lost Without You Tonight" 13
"Soft Winds" 13
1958 "Make Me a Present of You" 27
1959 "What a Difference a Day Made" 8 4
"Unforgettable" 17 15
1960 "Baby (You've Got What It Takes)" (w/ Brook Benton) 5 1
"A Rockin' Good Way (To Mess Around and Fall in Love)" (w/ Brook Benton) 7 1
"This Bitter Earth" 24 1
"Love Walked In" 30 16
"It Could Happen To You" 53
1961 "September in the Rain" 23* 5 35
1962 "Tears and Laughter" 71*
"Cold, Cold Heart" (new version of 1951 hit) 96
"Dream" (new version of 1954 hit) 92
"I Want to Be Loved" (new version of 1950 hit) 76
"Where Are You" 36*
"You're a Sweetheart" 98
"You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You" 87
1963 "Soulville" 92
1992 "Mad About the Boy" 41

| * "September In the Rain", "Tears and Laughter" and "Where Are You" also made the AC charts (nos. 5, 17 and 11 respectively)

Other notable recordings

See also


  1. ^ Bogdanov et al. All Music Guide to the Blues: The Definitive Guide to the Blues p. 373. Backbeat Books. ISBN 0879307366
  2. ^ New York Times. April 7, 1998. Peter Marks. Theater Review: Queen Of Blues Is Royally Annoyed With Life
  3. ^ Patti Austin recorded in BBC documentary, The Many Lives of Quincy Jones, 2008
  4. ^ "Queen: The Life and Music of Dinah Washington" Nadine Cohodas 2004
  5. ^ "Queen: The Life and Music of Dinah Washington" Nadine Cohodas 2004
  6. ^ Grammy Hall of Fame Database
  7. ^ 500 Songs That Shaped Rock
  8. ^ "Odetta should be memorialized" The Tuscaloosa News, Monday, December 8, 2008
  9. ^ "Sign links singer with local roots" by Bebe Barefoot Lloyd, The Tuscaloosa News, Friday, March 13, 2009
  10. ^ [1] The Board of Commissioners of the Chicago Park District. FEBRUARY 9, 2005

Further reading

  • Queen of the Blues: A Biography of Dinah Washington, Jim Haskins, 1987, William Morrow & Co. ISBN 0-688-04846-3
  • Top Pop Records 1955-1972, Joel Whitburn, 1973, Record Research.

External links


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