Rita Coolidge

Rita Coolidge (born May 1, 1945) is an American recording artist. During the 1970s and 1980s, her songs were on Billboard magazine's pop, country, adult contemporary, and jazz charts,[1] and she won two Grammy Awards with fellow musician and then-husband Kris Kristofferson.[2] Her recordings include "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher," "We're All Alone", and the theme song for the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy: "All Time High".

Rita Coolidge
Coolidge performing at an outdoor concert in Seattle in September 2002
Background information
Born (1945-05-01) May 1, 1945
Lafayette, Tennessee, U.S.
  • Singer
  • songwriter
Years active1969–present
Associated acts

Life and career

Early life

Coolidge is the daughter of Dick and Charlotte Coolidge, a minister and schoolteacher, with sisters Linda and Priscilla, and brother Raymond.[3] She attended Nashville's Maplewood High School and graduated from Andrew Jackson Senior High in Jacksonville, Florida. Coolidge is a graduate of Florida State University. She is a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority.[4]

Early career

After singing around Memphis (including a stint singing jingles), she was discovered by Delaney & Bonnie, who worked with her in Los Angeles.[4] There, she became a background singer on many other people's albums.[5] She sang for Leon Russell, Joe Cocker, Harry Chapin, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Dave Mason, Graham Nash, and Stephen Stills.[6] She was featured in Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour and album, singing Russell's and Bonnie Bramlett's song "Superstar." Coolidge did not receive songwriting credits for "Superstar" which later became a hit for The Carpenters.[7]

She became known as "The Delta Lady" and inspired Russell to write a song of the same name for her.[8]


Coolidge didn't receive songwriting credits for the piano coda in the 1971 single "Layla" by Eric Clapton's band Derek and the Dominos.[9] In 2016, Coolidge stated that she recorded a demo with her boyfriend, band's drummer Jim Gordon, before they went to England to record with Clapton. Once they met with Clapton, Coolidge played the piece she composed for him and she gave him a cassette.[7] Clapton, impressed by the piece, used it as part of the song in the coda section which she found out by hearing the song over the PA system a year later. She tried to contact Clapton, but was told by his manager Robert Stigwood, "What are you gonna do? You’re a girl. You don't have money to fight this." She hasn't heard from Clapton himself but believes he is aware of the situation.[7]

Though only Gordon has been officially credited with this part, the band's keyboardist Bobby Whitlock claimed:

Jim took that piano melody from his ex-girlfriend, Rita Coolidge. I know because in the Delaney & Bonnie days, I lived in John Garfield's old house in the Hollywood Hills and there was a guest house with an upright piano in it. Rita and Jim were up there in the guest house and invited me to join in on writing this song with them called "Time". Her sister Priscilla wound up recording it with her husband, Booker T. Jones (of Booker T. & the M.G.'s). Jim took the melody from Rita's song and didn't give her credit for writing it. Her boyfriend ripped her off.[10]

"Time" ended up on the 1973 album Chronicles by Booker T. and Priscilla.

Kris Kristofferson

In November 1970, she met Kris Kristofferson at the Los Angeles airport when they were both catching the same flight to Tennessee. He got off in Memphis with her, rather than continue to his intended destination in Nashville. The two married in 1973 and recorded several duet albums, which sold well and earned the duo a Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1974 for "From the Bottle to the Bottom", and in 1976 for "Lover Please."[2]

Coolidge's greatest success on the pop charts came during 1977–1978 with four consecutive top 25 hits, remakes of Jackie Wilson's "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher", Boz Scaggs' "We're All Alone", the Temptations' "The Way You Do The Things You Do", and Marcia Hines' "You."[11]

Coolidge also was among the first hosts on VH1, a U.S. cable network. In 2006, she recorded a standards album, And So Is Love.[6]

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Rita Coolidge among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[12]


In 1997, Coolidge was one of the founding members of Walela, a Native American music trio, that also included her sister Priscilla and her daughter Laura Satterfield. The trio released studio albums in 1997 (Walela) and 2000 (Unbearable Love), a live album and DVD (Live in Concert) in 2004 and a compilation album (The Best of Walela) in 2007.[13] Walela means hummingbird in Cherokee. Coolidge considered this group important, not only in honoring her Cherokee ancestors but also in bringing their culture to others. Also as part of her Native American heritage, she performed with Robbie Robertson, who has Mohawk ancestry, at the 2002 Winter Olympics.[6]


Her autobiography, Delta Lady: A Memoir, was published in April 2016.[14]

Personal life


Coolidge had romantic liaisons with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash. Rita leaving Stills for Nash has been cited as a contributing factor behind the initial 1970 breakup of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.[15] She was the "sweet little Indian girl" named "Raven" in the song "Cowboy Movie" on David Crosby's album If I Could Only Remember My Name.[16]

Coolidge was also involved with Leon Russell and Joe Cocker. During the Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour, Coolidge's boyfriend at the time, Jim Gordon, physically assaulted her which resulted in a black eye for the rest of the tour. Coolidge ended the relationship and never spoke to him again.[9] He was later diagnosed with schizophrenia and convicted of murdering his mother.[9]

Coolidge was married to Kris Kristofferson from 1973 to 1980.[1] Their daughter is her only child, Casey Kristofferson (also a musician), was born in 1974. Their marriage deteriorated after the miscarriage of her second child in 1977. In her memoir, Delta Lady, Coolidge described her marriage to Kristofferson as volatile due to his alcoholism and infidelity.[9] She revealed he was also emotionally abusive and would belittle her talent.[9] When they divorced she did not ask him for anything.[9] However, Coolidge told People that she and Kristofferson still share a bond in 2016.[17]

Coolidge married Tatsuya Suda, a world leader in computer architecture research, on June 19, 2004, in the Cook Islands.[18] Suda, a Japanese citizen, retired in 2010 after a long tenure as a professor at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (UC Irvine), when allegations of professional misconduct against him surfaced. In 2014, he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of receiving illegal payments.[19][20] Coolidge had lived in Fallbrook, California, where she painted and exhibited her work.[6]

In 2017, Coolidge rekindled a romantic relationship with a former college lover, Joe Hutto,[21][22] and moved back to Tallahassee.[23]


In October, 2014, Coolidge's sister, Priscilla, was killed by her husband, Michael Siebert, in a murder/suicide.[9] The pain of that loss was exacerbated when the killer's ashes were delivered to Rita's home and she had to dispose of them.[24]

Awards and nominations

Coolidge was inducted into the Southern Museum of Music Hall of Fame in 2015.[4]

Grammy Awards

Coolidge has been nominated for three Grammy Awards, and has won two.[2]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1974 "From The Bottle To The Bottom" Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group Won
1975 "Loving Arms" Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group Nominated
1976 "Lover Please" Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group Won


Albums (North American)

Year Album Peak positions Certification Label
US Country CAN
1971 Rita Coolidge 105 71 A&M
Nice Feelin' 135
1972 The Lady's Not for Sale 46 27
1974 Fall into Spring 55 41
1975 It's Only Love 85
1977 Anytime...Anywhere 6 23 4
1978 Love Me Again 32 39
1979 Satisfied 95 58
1980 Greatest Hits 107 47
1981 Heartbreak Radio 160
1983 Never Let You Go
1984 Inside the Fire
1992 Love Lessons Caliber/Critique
1996 Out of the Blues Beacon
1998 Thinkin' About You Innerworks
2005 And So Is Love Concord
2012 A Rita Coolidge Christmas
2018 Safe in The Arms of Time Blue Elan

Albums with Kris Kristofferson

Year Album Peak positions Certification Label
US Country US CAN
1973 Full Moon 1 26 7 A&M
1974 Breakaway 19 103 81 Monument
1978 Natural Act 24 106 A&M

International albums

Year Album Label
1990 Fire Me Back Attic
1991 Dancing with an Angel
1993 For You Alpha
1995 Behind the Memories Pony Canyon

Compilation albums

Year Album Label
1979 All About Rita Coolidge (Japanese release) A&M
1980 Greatest Hits
1987 Classics Volume 5
1991 A&M Gold Series (West German release)
1994 All Time High: Best of Rita Coolidge
1995 The Collection (Australian release) Spectrum
1999 Master Series A&M
2000 20th Century Masters – The Millenium Collection
2001 Universal Masters Collection
2004 Delta Lady – The Rita Coolidge Anthology


Year Single Peak chart positions Certification Album
US[11] US
UK[26] AU
1969 "Turn Around and Love You" 96 single only
1971 "I Believe in You" 38 16 Rita Coolidge
1972 "Fever" 76 The Lady's Not for Sale
1973 "My Crew"A flip 38
"Whiskey, Whiskey" 106
"A Song I'd Like to Sing" (w/Kris Kristofferson) 49 12 92 53 3 54 97 Full Moon
1974 "Loving Arms" (w/Kris Kristofferson) 86 25 98 83 9 96
"Mama Lou" 94 Fall Into Spring
"Rain" (w/Kris Kristofferson) 44 87 40 Breakaway
1975 "Lover Please" (w/Kris Kristofferson) 42
1977 "(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher" 2 5 1 3 48 6B Anytime...Anywhere
"We're All Alone" 7 1 82 5 1 6 32
1978 "The Way You Do the Things You Do" 20 9 16 6 74
"Words" 25
"You" 25 3 17 1 Love Me Again
"The Jealous Kind" 63
"Love Me Again" 68 20 83 73 35
"Slow Dancer" 60
1979 "Hello, Love, Goodbye" 27
"One Fine Day" 66 15 89 4 68 Satisfied
"I'd Rather Leave While I'm in Love" 38 3 32 87 1 24
1980 "Somethin' 'Bout You Baby I Like"
(w/Glen Campbell)
42 39 60 36 23 Somethin' Bout You Baby I Like
(Glen Campbell album)
"Fool That I Am" 46 15 72 52 Coast to Coast soundtrack
"We Could Stay Together" (w/Booker T. Jones) 60 The Best of You (Booker T. Jones album)
1981 "Let's Go Dancing" (w/Booker T. Jones) 60 Satisfied
"The Closer You Get" 103 16 Heartbreak Radio
1983 "Lake Freeze" Lake Freeze – The Raccoons Songtrack
"All Time High" 36 1 38 1 75 80 Octopussy soundtrack
"Only You" 37 Never Let You Go
1984 "Something Said Love" 15 Inside the Fire
1990 "I Stand in Wonder" 49 21 Fire Me Back


  1. Huey, Steve. "Rita Coolidge - Music Biography, Streaming Radio and Discography - AllMusic". AllMusic.
  2. "Rita Coolidge". Recording Academy Grammy Awards.
  3. Charlotte Coolidge (obituary), Mendocino Beacon, August 23, 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
  4. "Rita Coolidge - Southern Museum of Music Artist Hall of Fame Spotlight". Southern Museum of Music. Retrieved 2019-11-10.
  5. "Rita Coolidge Biography". theuncool.com.
  6. Palisin, Steve (April 17, 2014). "Rita Coolidge shares Myrtle Beach area memories and more ahead of concert in Brunswick County". The Sun News.
  7. "Delta Spirit: Rita Coolidge Reflects on Delaney & Bonnie, Mad Dogs & Englishmen, "Layla" and More". Relix Media. October 25, 2016.
  8. Greenwald, Matthew. "Delta Lady - Leon Russell - Song Review". AllMusic.
  9. Conroy, Catherine (April 12, 2016). "Rita Coolidge's tales of pain and hedonism from rock's inner circle". The Irish Times.
  10. "Layla's 40th: The Where's Eric! Interview With Bobby Whitlock". Where's Eric!.
  11. "Rita Coolidge Chart History". Billboard.
  12. Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  13. Huey, Steve. "Walela - Music Biography, Streaming Radio and Discography - AllMusic". AllMusic.
  14. Coolidge, Rita; Walker, Michael (2016). Delta Lady: A Memoir. New York: Harper. ISBN 978-0062372048.
  15. Zimmer, Dave, and Diltz, Henry (1984). Crosby Stills & Nash: The Authorized Biography (First edition), St. Martin’s Press, ISBN 0-312-17660-0.
  16. Browne (2019). Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young: The Wild, Definitive Saga of Rock's Greatest Supergroup (First edition), Da Capo Press, ISBN 978-0306903281.
  17. Dodd, Johnny (March 23, 2016). "'70s Songbird Rita Coolidge on Her Former Husband Kris Kristofferson: We Still 'Have a Bond That Is Beyond Any Kind of Understanding'". People.
  18. "Rita Coolidge Marriage". American Profile. 2005-08-07. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  19. "Former UCI Professor Pleads Guilty to Felony Conflict of Interest | Voice of OC". voiceofoc.org. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  20. "Vocal supporter - The San Diego Union-Tribune". utsandiego.com.
  21. "Rita Coolidge launching series of US concerts tonight in support of new album - Music News - ABC News Radio". ABC News Radio. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  22. "Rita Coolidge, Joe Hutto join Authors in Apalach event". Tallahassee Democrat. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  23. Flanigan, Tom. "Rita Coolidge Will Call Tallahassee Home. Again". Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  24. Stephenson, Hannah (May 9, 2016). "'1970s star Rita Coolidge talks music and mourning after sister's murder'". The Irish News. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  25. "Gold & Platinum". RIAA. Retrieved 2019-04-13.
  26. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 119. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
Preceded by
Sheena Easton
For Your Eyes Only, 1981
James Bond title artist
Octopussy ("All Time High"), 1983
Succeeded by
Duran Duran
A View to a Kill, 1985
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