The Lost Billie Holiday Interview — 1956

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player — Billie Holiday Interview — 1956 — Gordon Skene Sound Collection.

Something rare, unique and never thought to have existed this weekend — an unaired interview from 1956 with Billie Holiday.

As is the case with so many legendary performers, so much of what was said, written or done has been covered to the point where there is very little left which could be considered new or even unique — it’s all been discovered and it’s all been pored over.

Except this one. As the story goes — this interview was conducted at radio station KNX in Los Angeles in 1956, on the occasion of the release of Billie’s then-latest album Velvet Mood as well as finishing up a stint at Jazz City in L.A., as well as a plug for her recently released autobiography Lady Sings The Blues. The interview is relaxed and informal. The questions cover a range of topics from the sessions to fishing.

But there was a problem. Even though the interview was anything but controversial, the sound of Billie’s voice was. The segment producer was concerned that Billie was slurring a lot of words, and Station Management determined she sounded loaded and refused to run the interview. The interview, slated to run that weekend, was quietly replaced by something else and the Billie Holiday interview never aired.

So it sat in a box and was largely forgotten about for almost 60 years. Until today.

This is the first time, since that recording in 1956 that this interview sees the light.

Knowing the story and the legend of Billie Holiday, this makes for an extra added dimension to a artist whose music and life have become so much a part of our cultural heritage. And you get to hear it.

And as a way of letting you know the kind of material, the rarities and the unique moments we have on Past Daily, all part of The Gordon Skene Sound Collection, this is the sort of history we offer everyday on our site.

As you know, we’re having our Spring Fundraiser and are trying to reach our goal of $15,000 by the end of the month. We need your help and your Tax Deductible contributions in order to continue offering historic recordings such as this, and so much more, from our vast archive to share with you. We don’t feel recordings like this should be relegated to obscurity, or worse, destined for destruction. Rather they need to be celebrated, enjoyed and learned from; studied and referred to as a way of keeping our history fresh and vital.

And you can help. By chipping in what you can, however much or as little as you’re willing, we need your help in order to keep Past Daily offering these gems on a daily basis and to keep the Archive running and taking on the continuing task of preserving and making available recordings such as these.

So, I appeal to all of you — and if you’re reading this and know someone who would be interested, please tell them about it. We need all of your support and contributions if we’re going to continuing giving you our best.

Please click on the link below, it will take you to our donation site (run by Indiegogo in connection with Fracture Atlas) and you will be able to make a contribution in any amount you’re comfortable with.

In the meantime, enjoy and a huge hug of appreciation to those of you who have chipped in.

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Originally published at on June 6, 2015.

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