Book Excerpt: With Billie
Author: Julia Blackburn
Book: With Billie
Publisher: Pantheon Books - New York
"On the morning of 27 October 1971, Linda Kuehl had arranged to meet
[Baltimore] Freddie Green at the Red Rooster Club in the Point district in
Baltimore. Not Freddie Green the guitarist, the 'quiet guy', who played
with Billie in the Count Basie band, and with whom Baltimore Freddie said
Billie 'had something going for a while', although he couldn't 'put [the two
of] them together'."
[* Editor's note: Baltimore Freddie Green was a friend from Billie Holiday's
childhood. Like many others, he pondered how Billie and guitarist Freddie
Green became involved. Opposites attract is likely the best explanation.]
"Billie [Holiday] met Jimmy Monroe at Rockaway and that's where he started
going with her. Claire [Lievenson] said before that Billie had been with
Bobby Henderson and the guitar player Freddie Green, and Sonny White the
pianist, who gave her an engagement ring, and everybody hoped she would stay
with him because 'He was a nice boy and didn't like her for what she had,
like most of them did'."
"Billie put her drink down. She said to me [Jimmy Rowles] "Did I ever know
Dick Wilson [tenor saxophonist]? I'm going to tell you something. I was
going with [guitarist] Freddie Green and I was true to that motherf_ _ ker.
But every time I saw Dick Wilson, I just had to take him out and f _ _k
"Billie kept asking Memry [Midgett] what on earth it was that had made
someone [Billie] follow such a hard and painful road. Billie had known so
many men, men like Bobby Henderson and Freddie Green, who were good and kind
and gentle. They were the men who would have cared for her and protected
her, and given her the children and the security she always longed for. But
instead she had been drawn irresistibly to the hustlers and the pimps; she
had chosen to be cheated and beaten and humiliated and shared with other
women and discarded when she was no longer useful."