Ella Mae Morse, 1940s Hitmaking
Vocalist, Dies At 75
Ella Mae Morse, the R&B-styled jazz singer
whose 1942 hit record "Cow Cow Boogie" was
Capitol Records' first million seller, died of
respiratory failure Saturday (Oct. 16) in
Bullhead City, Ariz., at the age of 75.
Aside from being responsible for Capitol's first
success -- putting it on course to become one
of the biggest of record labels -- Morse sang
in a musical style that cleverly blended
elements of jazz, R&B, pop and country that
would typify the insurgent rock and roll sound
of the 1950s. The white Morse was often
misidentified as black, as she'd come up under
the tutelage of African-American artists. (Elvis
Presley cited her as a crucial musical
influence.) Aside from "Cow
Cow Boogie," her
10 gold records also included "House Of Blue
Ella Mae Morse was born in Mansfield, Texas
on Sept. 12, 1924, the daughter of a
drummer-father and a pianist-mother. After
singing in her father's jazz combo, Morse
joined the Jimmy Dorsey group while only 14.
(Morse's mother had told Dorsey that her
daughter was 19 -- and he fired her when he
discovered the truth.) Still, Morse's talent was
obvious, and in 1942 recorded "Cow
Boogie" with Dorsey's former pianist Freddie
Morse played predominantly as a solo artist
thereafter, and from the early 1940s to the
early 1950s released such top 10 his as
Of Blue Lights," "Shoo
Shoo Baby," "No
Love, No Nothin'," and "The
Morse's final recording was Capitol date Morse
Code in 1957. She continued to perform
occasionally over the next 30 years, often
with Ray McKinley's band.
Ella Mae Morse is survived by her husband
Jack Bradford and their children Dan and
Laura. Morse had four children from previous
marriages, plus eight grandchildren and three
BULLHEAD CITY, Ariz. (AP) - Ella
Mae Morse, whose classic 1942 recording
``Cow Cow Boogie'' became Capitol Records'
first million-selling single, died
Saturday. She was 75.
She had been suffering respiratory problems
following a long illness,
according to her publicist.
The Texas-born Ms. Morse combined boogie
woogie, blues, jazz, swing and
country influences in the 1940s and 50s,
helping to create a pioneering
``pop'' sound that would later grown into
rock 'n' roll. Elvis Presley even
praised her for teaching him how to sing.
Described as a black-trained, white ``hepchick,''
her songs, including ``The
House of Blue Lights,'' earned her 10
Ms. Morse stopped recording in 1957, but
continued performing until 1987.