November 8, 1954 in Chicago, Illinois
Often viewed as one of the most important and revered women in the wide world of pop/rock music, acoustic singer-songwriter
Rickie Lee Jones has built a long-term catalogue of music that is challenging, fascinating and satisfyingly distinctive. Quirky and singular as a lyricist, composer, solo performer and singer, Jones deserves her significant cult appeal but probably remains underrated on a larger scale. Here's a look at the lengthy career of this daring artist, which spanned the '80s but has also always managed to transcend any particular era or genre.
As daughter to a vaudevillian performer, Jones began to build an independent artistic spirit early and honestly. Most of her formative years took place in Arizona, where Jones experienced plenty of challenges in her family life that ultimately led her to leave home in her early teens and strike out on her own. By the mid '70s Jones surfaced in a Los Angeles area country-rock
band but quickly found her own eclectic path, refusing to fall into step with the California sound popular at the time as exemplified by The Eagles
and Linda Ronstadt
. Soon enough, support would build enough to get her a record deal with Warner Bros.
Debut & Overnight Sensation:
Jones' self-titled debut album
was released in early 1979 to immediate acclaim, and within the next year she would grace the cover of Rolling Stone
, secure numerous Grammy nominations and otherwise bowl over various influential media sources with her singular style. This massive success did not extend much beyond her 1981 follow-up, Pirates
, as Jones refused to conform with any single genre or movement and moved increasingly into more experimental and less pop-oriented musical territory. This turn away from mainstream success certainly contributed to a quieter career path during the remainder of the '80s if not a less fervent one.
The '90s & Beyond - Still Cool & Highly Admired:
Having become almost a legend at the outset of her major-label recording career, Jones experienced both the luxury and curse of great critical acclaim and its requisite expectations. Not unexpectedly, she has continued to make music on her own terms, attracting scores of admirers in the musician community and remaining a cult artist of high regard. Record releases have not been particularly plentiful over the past two decades, but Jones has retained a strong position of influence among the growing adult alternative singer-songwriter community.