Ella Fitzgerald Biography

The First Lady of Song

Biography and Guitar Lessons

Watch This Video

Live performance


Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald started out in the mid-30s, releasing duets with male singers.

Her first hit came with drummer and bandleader Chick Webb and their song A-Tisket, A-Tasket. It became one of the biggest selling records of the 30s and brought them nationwide success.

After Chick passed away, Ella continued with the band, now renamed Ella and Her Famous Orchestra. They recorded 150 songs until 1942 when Ella decided to go solo.

Most recordings in the 30s were novelty stuff, as the 40s rolled in with Bebop, Fitzgerald took to this style and started performing her famed scat-singing solos.

Most successfully so in collaboration with Dizzy Gilespie’s band. She described it as “I just tried to do [with my voice] what I heard the horns in the band doing.”

Lost in Bebop until 1954, Ella reached a breaking point. She said:

“I had gotten to the point where I was only singing be-bop. I thought be-bop was ‘it’, and that all I had to do was go some place and sing bop. But it finally got to the point where I had no place to sing. I realized then that there was more to music than bop. Norman … felt that I should do other things, so he produced Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Song Book with me. It was a turning point in my life.”

Indeed it was, it was the starting point of a concept she would keep up for almost a decade. The name said it all:

Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter (56), Rodgers & Hart (56), Duke Ellington (57), the Irving Berlin (58), George and Ira Gershwin (59), Harold Arlen (61), Jerome Kern (63), Johnny Mercer (64) Song Book.

In many ways, Ella’s versions made these songs, music journalists love to praise this body of work when they talk about the great American songbook and how its a gift to the American culture.

One thing is certain, if you want to play jazz, you have to look into the songs Ella Fitzgerald performed as she pretty much sang them all!

Between 1950 and 1988, Ella Fitzgerald released 61 studio albums and 25 live albums.


Electric Guitar Lessons


Get Ready – Step 1

Written and produced by Smokey Robinson, Get Ready was originally written for a dance craze at the time.

Performed by The Temptations, it was released in 1966 and made it to the number 1 spot in the R & B charts.

Go to Get Ready step 1.


Get Ready – Step 2 (Free Preview)

First of all, you must try playing the riff in all positions. Not only will this teach you to play the riff better, but you’ll also manifest the Minor Pentatonic scale in your hands.

Moving a riff around like this is a much better idea than just practicing the scale up and down.

Go to Get Ready step 2.


Get Ready – Step 3

To master the chord progression of the chorus, first, we play the chords I – IV – II – V on a loop up and down the neck.

Following this, we look at some ideas for creating a completely new part.

Go to Get Ready step 3.


Get Ready – Step 4

Now that you know the verse and the chorus, let’s put them together and as we do, let’s explore options for that chorus tag.

First practice the two TAB examples exactly as written, then build your own variations.

Go to Get Ready step 4.


Get Ready – Step 5

Today we prepare to steal the sax solo and copy what the strings play during the solo section of Get Ready.

These two tasks come with pretty complicated techniques so before we get to that, I’m gonna give you some technical exercises.

Go to Get Ready step 5.


Get Ready – Step 6

When you visualize the string line, see each shape like this: A Major Pentatonic, add the 4 and b7, start on the 3rd of the scale.

Seeing the fret board and theory like this is the key to mastering the guitar.

Go to Get Ready step 6.


Get Ready – Step 7

In this step, I play the complete song from beginning to end. Using the complete TAB, play along with me, aiming to play the same or similar licks.

When you feel ready, move on to the next step where it’ll be your turn to play with the band.

Go to Get Ready step 7.


Get Ready – Step 8

Spend at least half an hour playing the song on a loop. The longer you can experiment with what you’re playing, rather than settle on a part, the better.

Get Ready is a Motown classic you’re very likely to come across should you join or jam with a soul band.

Go to Get Ready step 8.


Acoustic Guitar Lessons


Sunshine Of Your Love – Step 1 (Free Preview)

Before we can start playing Sunshine Of Your Love, we have to ensure we can play the minor blues scale in Dm and Gm.

We do this as the riff is based on this very scale. First, we play the scale, then the riff.

Go to Sunshine Of Your Love step 1.


Sunshine Of Your Love – Step 2

Let’s find 10 ways to play this riff all over the neck in D and G.

By adding more notes to fatten it up and expression techniques like slides and bends, we can make this sound more or less bluesy.

Go to Sunshine Of Your Love step 2.


Sunshine Of Your Love – Step 3

By borrowing a dom7#9 from Spanky Wilson’s cover version, we can further expand on the main riff.

We also work on how to play the turnaround in a few ways.

Go to Sunshine Of Your Love step 3.


Sunshine Of Your Love – Step 4

In this step, we play the complete song with a singer. There is a 4 page, complete TAB transcription available.

However, it would be a better idea to look at the fret board and find the riff in an improvised way, than to focus on the TAB.

Go to Sunshine Of Your Love step 4.


Sunshine Of Your Love – Step 5

It’s time to summon the spirit of Eric Clapton and play his solo in eleven individual licks.

Our mental coach is Mr. Miyagi who will assist us with the wax on, wax off slow-motion learning technique. You can do this!

Go to Sunshine Of Your Love step 5.


Sunshine Of Your Love – Step 6

The tempo is now fast enough so we can add a rhythm guitar and play longer phrases from the solo.

If you have prepared well, playing these five examples will be possible.

Go to Sunshine Of Your Love step 6.


Sunshine Of Your Love – Step 7

You’re almost there when you completed this step as we now play the solo in its entirety.

First in two halves at 96 BPM, then the full solo at 108.

Go to Sunshine Of Your Love step 7.


Sunshine Of Your Love – Step 8

In this final step, you play with me and the singer again, although now you play the solo.

For a 2nd rhythm guitar part, don’t play the riff in the same area as me and keep changing it!

Go to Sunshine Of Your Love step 8.


Related Pages


Chords

Baby Won't You please Come HomeBaby Won’t You Please Come Home is a Jazz/Blues written by Clarence Williams.

Sung by Bessie Smith, Nat King Cole & Ella Fitzgerald it has become a jazz standard.

Go to Baby Won’t You Please Come Home chords.


Lyrics

Baby Wont You Please Come HomeBaby won’t you please come home
‘Cause your mama’s all alone
I have cried in vain, never no more to call your name
When you left you broke my heart

Go to Baby Won’t You Please Come Home lyrics.


Chords

Dream A Little Dream Of MeI’ve recorded Mama Cass classic version of Dream A Little Dream Of Me almost note for note.

That’s until the chorus kicks in. On the original recording, there is very little guitar so this section has been arranged almost from scratch to work on one acoustic guitar.

Go to Dream A Little Dream Of Me chords.


Lyrics

Dream A Little Dream Of MeStars shining bright above you
Night breezes seem to whisper, “I love you”
Birds singing in the sycamore tree
Dream a little dream of me

Go to Dream A Little Dream Of Me lyrics.


Chords and Guitar Lesson

Get Ready is a song that moves from a repetitive Minor Pentatonic verse riff to a simple four-chord chorus progression.

When the solo comes along, we take the original sax and string ideas and put them on the guitar.

Go to Get Ready chords and guitar lessons.


Lyrics

I never met a girl who makes me feel the way that you do
(you’re alright)
Whenever I’m asked who makes my dreams real I say that you do
(you’re outta sight)

Go to Get Ready lyrics.


Chords and Guitar Lessons

This one guitar version of Sunshine Of Your Love is a combination of Creams original and a Spanky Wilson cover.

Using the main riff as a starting point over a standard blues, the I chord has sometimes been extended to a dom7#9.

Go to Sunshine Of Your Love chords and guitar lessons.


Lyrics

Sunshine Of Your LoveIt’s getting near dawn
When lights close their tired eyes
I’ll soon be with you my love
To give you my dawn surprise

Go to Sunshine Of Your Love lyrics.


Sign Up

A monthly subscription with access to all acoustic and electric step by step lessons, each one designed to bring your guitar playing skills to the next level.

Including detailed, but bite-sized explanations on how the music theory of each song is applied to the neck.

Go to Monthly subscription.