2003-12-30 05:05:51 UTC
DATELINE: DAYTON, Ohio
Bobbie Nell Brookshire Gordon, a singer who toured in the 1970s with jazz
great Duke Ellington, has died near Washington, D.C., at a suburban Maryland
hospital. She was 64.
She died on Saturday of heart failure, longtime friend Doris Etue of
Tamarac, Fla., said Monday.
Gordon, a Dayton native, was discovered in 1961 while singing at a bar in
this city. She performed with pianist Betty Greenwood and had come to the
attention of Ellington, the noted bandleader.
In a recently released book, "The Betty Greenwood Story," by Susie
McLaughlin, Greenwood recalled the career break for Gordon.
"She had a contract with me, but I said, if it meant you touring with Duke
Ellington, I wouldn't want to stand in the way of that," the author quoted
Greenwood as saying.
Gordon toured from 1970 to 1974 with Ellington. A newly released digital
video disc of a 1971 performance, "Live at Tivoli Gardens," includes Gordon
singing "Love You Madly" and "One More Time."
Gordon was featured as "Nell Brookshire" with Ellington on the cover of Jet
magazine in September 1971.
It was Ellington who decided to identify Gordon as Bobbie Nell Brookshire,
her maiden name, Etue said.
"He thought it sounded elite," Etue told the Dayton Daily News for a story
Monday. "They were touring in Russia, and he decided to call her that. And
the way he said it was absolutely fantastic."
Gordon is survived by five children. Funeral services were being arranged
for later this week in Dayton, Etue said.