You Say It's Your Birthday: Rickie Lee Jones

Rickie Lee Jones is celebrating her 43rd birthday today. While she is best known for her

1979 hit "Chuck E's In Love," her trademarked mix of beat poetry, R&B, jazz and folk

have earned her a devoted cult following throughout the years. Jones moved around quite

a bit when she was growing up, finally settling in Los Angeles at the age of 19. She

started off in Los Angeles as so many do, waitressing to make ends met while trying to

figure out how to get her big break. She began performing in small clubs, punctuating her

folk songs with beat poems and rhythmic monologues. 1978 saw Jones hitting a lucky

streak, with her demo falling into the hands of Warner Bros. at about the same time Little

Feat's Lowell George recorded her "Easy Money" for his Thanks I'll Eat Here solo

EP. She signed to Warner Bros. by the end of the year and set about recording her self-titled debut.

Released in 1979, Rickie Lee Jones contained song structures which alluded to

jazz and Broadway shows and spawned a major hit with "Chuck E's In Love." While the

single went to #4, Jones was dogged by critics who called her a pseudo-bohemian and a

Joni Mitchell rip-off. Jones, for her part, brushed off the criticism and told critics that she

considered songwriter Laura Nyro and Van Morrison a bigger influence on her career. In

the face of these charges, she still she accepted her 1979 Grammy for Best New Artist on

national television sporting her trademark beret and leather jacket, everybody's idea of the

stereotypical bohemian look. 1981's Pirates, a collection of songs about death and

transfiguration, hit #5 on the charts and went gold. Her output in the late '80s (1984's

The Magazine and 1989's Flying Cowboys) sold reasonably well but

failed to ignite any hits. In 1989, she dueted with Dr. John on his Grammy winning

version of "Makin' Whoopee" and began work on 1991's Pop Pop, a collection of

coversongs spanning Tin Pan Alley to Jimi Hendrix that was produced by Don Was. The

album did not fare very well and, inspite of guest appearances by Los Lobos, Lyle Lovett

and Brian Setzer, neither did 1993's Traffic From Paradise. 1995's Naked

Songs was a solid sonic document of her '93-'94 tour, but this year's

Ghostyhead was an ill-advised journey into the world of trip-hop. Jones toured

the U.S. earlier this year and is now hitting clubs in Europe.

Other birthdays: Patti Page, 70; Gerald Alston (Manhattans), 55; Bonnie Bramlett (Delaney

& Bonnie), 53; Robert Nix (Atlanta Rhythm Section), 53; Roy Wood (Move/ELO/Wizard),

51; Alan Berger (Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes), 48; Larry Burnett (Firefall), 46;

Terry Lee Mial (Adam & the Ants), 39; Alan Graham Frew (Glass Tiger), 38 and Lief

Garrett, 36.