Judees father and brother both died in different accidents when she was still relatively young. Her mother subsequently married the Tom and Jerryanimator Kenneth Muse,-a marriage that was marked by serious alcohol abuse. This, and her own rebellious nature, drove her in her teens from House to a life of crime and drug use. She came in the prison for writing false checks. There she learned her gospel-like keyboard style, made itself independent of her heroin addiction and decided to start writing songs.
As a talented pianist, organist and guitarist, she returned to the west coast of the United States. There she came against David Geffen , who quickly became a fan of her and offered her a contract, as the first artist for his recently founded record label Asylum Records. Through him she met also David Crosbyand Graham Nash , with whom she toured as support act for a while.
Graham Nash produced the first single of her first album, " Jesus Was a Cross Maker. That album, Judee Sill, came out in 1971. Judees intimate song texts and deft guitar playing was accompanied by a lush orchestration, and Judees voice was several times, often to overgedubd a four-part Chorale or Fugue. She was strongly influenced by the metric shapes and Bach's suites , while her lyrics draw on Christian themes above all passion and liberation. The album had light rock/folksound of other female singer-songwriters such as Carole King and Joni Mitchell. Despite the rave reviews, the performances along with Crosby and Nash and the pretty solid airplay of Jesus Was a Cross Maker was not the commercial success.
It took Judee, who admitted that she was a perfectionist, often a year to write a song, and it took until the end of 1972 until she recorded her second album Heart Food and brought out. They orchestrated and arranged this album itself. Also this album received enthusiastic reviews, but didn't sell well.
Not able to draw enough audience and also unwilling to play as, disappeared slowly Judee Sill out of sight. She took for a third album demos on yet in 1974. All sorts of rumors started circulating about what happened next, but it is certain that they, especially after a car accident and the physical pain thereby, fell in her heroin addiction and also heavily use cocaine went. Graham Nash has said that he's been in 1974 heard they had died of an overdose, which later turned out to be not true, but given how closely both still but had worked recently gives it to how fully they had withdrawn in the meantime.
Eventually she died in 1979 at the age of 35 to a drug overdose . Long after her death, she was praised by many musicians. Her in 1974 recorded demos were released posthumously in 2005 under the title Dreams Come True.
Discography[Edit][edit | edit source]
- Judee Sill (LP, Asylum, 1971)
- Heart Food (LP, Asylum, 1973)
- Dreams Come True (2 CD, Water, 2005). Contains eight songs, meant for her third album not released (Tulips From Amsterdam), studio and home demos and a video clip of five songs live at USC in 1973.
- Judee Sill (CD, Rhino handmade, 2005). The first album plus original versions of two songs, seven live versions and a home demo. 5000 copies.
- Heart Food (CD, Rhino handmade, 2005). The second album plus an outtake and eight demo versions. 5000 copies.
- Abracadabra: The Asylum Years (2 CD, Rhino, 2006). Both albums plus bonus tracks.
- Live in London: The BBC Recordings 1972-1973 (CD, Troubadour, 2007). Solo sessions for the BBC, and an interview with Bob Harris.