When Peggy Lee was discovered by Benny Goodman in 1941, it was the beginning of a beautiful – and six-decade-long – career.
Lee only performed with Goodman and his band for two years, leaving when she married his guitarist (Goodman didn’t like his musicians to fraternize with the “girl singers”), but the short partnership helped launch her to stardom. It brought us a few fantastic hits, too – like the song that made Peggy Lee famous, “Why Don’t You Do Right.”
After Lee married guitarist Dave Barbour, she planned to retire from singing. But few people with a talent and passion like hers can stay out of the business for long, and by 1948 she was back in the game. She catapulted out of retirement with the No. 1 hit “Mañana (Is Soon Enough For Me).” Here, she performs it along with husband Barbour:
Ten years after Lee’s comeback, she was no longer married to Barbour (in fact, she was on husband number three, actor Dewey Martin), but her career was still hot. She warmed it up even more when she recorded her sizzling signature song, “Fever.” She wasn’t the first to record the song, but she added new verses, which she wrote – and which became standard in later recordings by others.
Peggy Lee would have turned 92 today. She died just over 10 years ago after a long and rich career – one that continued long after her early successes. And her epitaph perfectly reflects her: “Music is my life’s breath.”