- Born in Tennessee in 1945, Rita Coolidge continues to perform today.
- Rita’s singing career began in bars around Memphis and in recording advertising jingles, before she was discovered by Delaney and Bonnie.
- After moving to Los Angeles with Delaney and Bonnie, Rita sang background vocals for many popular artists of the time, including: Delaney & Bonnie, Leon Russell, Joe Cocker, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Graham Nash, and Stephen Stills. Rita features in Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen album, singing Leon Russell’s Superstar.
- Rita was nicknamed, The Delta Lady and inspired Leon Russell to write a song of the same name for her.
- In 1973, Rita married Kris Kristofferson. Together they recorded several duet albums, which sold well and earned them two Grammy Awards for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal; From the Bottle to the Bottom (1974) and Lover Please (1976).
- As a soloist, Rita scored four consecutive top 25 hits in 1977-78. Coincidentally, they were all covers: Jackie Wilson’s (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher, Boz Scaggs’ We’re All Alone, The Temptations’ The Way You Do The Things You Do, and Marcia Hines’ You.
the layla connection
- Having recorded the initial version of Layla in 1970, Eric Clapton heard drummer Jim Gordon playing a piano piece he had allegedly composed himself. Eric was impressed by the piece and convinced his drummer Gordon to allow it to be used as the song’s coda section. Jim Gordon has been officially credited with this part but keyboardist Bobby Whitlock claims,
Jim took that piano melody from his ex-girlfriend Rita Coolidge. I know because in the Delaney & Bonnie days, I lived in John Garfield’s old house in the Hollywood Hills and there was a guest house with an upright piano in it. Rita and Jim were up there in the guest house and invited me to join in on writing this song with them called Time. Her sister Priscilla wound up recording it with her husband, Booker T. Jones (of Booker T. & the M.G.’s). Jim took the melody from Rita’s song and didn’t give her credit for writing it. Her boyfriend ripped her off.
- Time ended up on the 1973 album Chronicles by Booker T. and Priscilla.
(your love has lifted me) higher and higher fax
- (Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher was originally recorded by Jackie Wilson. It was released in August 1967 and peaked at #6 on both the US and UK singles charts.
- The song was covered by The Move in 1968 and Bette Midler in 1973 – that was before Rita Coolidge’s hit.
- Rita recorded the song in 1977 and included it on her album, Anytime…Anywhere.
- Rita and her sister Priscilla Jones had sung background on a version of the song for a prospective album by Priscilla’s husband Booker T. Jones; when that album was shelved Coolidge asked him if she could cut the song using his arrangement.
- (Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher was Rita’s first major hit despite nine years of recording. Her version peaked at #2 on the US charts – it earned Rita her first gold record.
- Rolling Stone magazine once ranked the song as #246 on their list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In 1999, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
- (Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher lyrics.
(your love has lifted me) higher and higher – Rita Coolidge – 1977 – video
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