Georgia Gibbs Biography

Fredda Lipschitz, 17 August 1919, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA, d. 9 December 2006, New York City, New York, USA. When Gibbs was six months old, her father died and she was placed in an orphanage for some six years. Reclaimed by her mother, she then took as her surname, her mother’s new married name, Gibson. When building her career in the 50s, Gibbs was unfairly maligned by rock critics for covering the R&B hits of LaVern Baker and Etta James. In reality, she was a genuinely talented pop vocalist, whose jazz-tinged approach reflected years of experience in the big band era, a period when there was no stigma attached to cover versions.

Gibbs’ big break in showbusiness came in 1936 when she joined the Will Hudson - Eddie De Lange Orchestra, recording for Brunswick Records. That led to a radio career in 1937, includingYour Hit Parade. There were also recording stints with the bands of Frank Trumbauer (1940), Artie Shaw (1942) and Tommy Dorsey (1944). On the Jimmy Durante Camel Caravan radio show 1943-47, Gibbs received her trademark nickname when host Garry Moore dubbed her ‘Her Nibs, Miss Gibbs’.

Gibbs first entered the charts in 1950 with a cover version of Eileen Barton’s ‘If I Knew You Were Comin’ I’d’ve Baked A Cake’ (number 5 pop), and had her first number 1 hit with ‘Kiss Of Fire’, a vocal version of the 30s tango instrumental ‘El Choclo’. After gaining another hit with ‘Seven Lonely Days’ (number 5 pop 1953), Gibbs achieved notoriety in 1955 when she hit with two note-for-note cover versions of R&B tunes - ‘Tweedle Dee’ (US pop number 2) by Baker and ‘Dance With Me, Henry’ (US pop number 1) by James. ‘Kiss Me Another’ (US pop number 30) and ‘Tra La La’ (US pop number 24) kept her in the public eye in 1956, but not for long. Her last chart record was ‘The Hula Hoop Song’ (US pop Top 40, 1958), which tried to ride the success of the silly toy fad. In the UK, Gibb’s chart success was minuscule, constituting two one-week appearances by ‘Tweedle Dee’ and ‘Kiss Me Another’, respectively.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.