OTB Latenight – Jo Stafford (Updated)

Jo Stafford passed away last Wednesday of congestive heart failure at age 90. Her death went mostly unremarked by us, but she was huge in her day.

Frank Sinatra, a bandmate of Stafford’s before his own fame took flight, once said of her, “It was a joy to sit on the bandstand and listen to her.” R.I.P.

Update: Dave Schuler

No tribute to the fabulous Jo Stafford would be complete without mentioning her second, rather unexpected career. It began as a party gag she and her husband, Paul Weston, would entertain with. She’d sing off-key, he’d play a de-tuned piano, out of rhythm, missing a few notes. It became a gentle hoax, an in-joke, Stafford and Weston claiming that they’d discovered Jonathan and Darlene Edwards performing in New Jersey. It eventually was one of the first commercially successful song parody groups, the forerunner of Weird Al and many others. Between 1961 and 1993 they produced (to my knowledge) five Jonathan and Darlene Edwards albums. If you look around on YouTube you’ll find Darlene’s performances of Stayin’ Alive and I Am Woman being used as background music on a few entries. The Darlene Edwards version of April in Paris defies description.

Her performances [updated: as Darlene] are simply remarkable. It takes incredible discipline and skill to sing persistently a quarter tone off-key.

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Dodd Harris
About Dodd Harris
Dodd, who used to run a blog named ipse dixit, is an attorney, a veteran of the United States Navy, and a fairly good poker player. He contributed over 650 pieces to OTB between May 2007 and September 2013. Follow him on Twitter @Amuk3.


  1. Bithead says:

    It takes incredible discipline and skill to sing persistently a quarter tone off-key.


    heh. So, we have under-estimated the takent of ‘star’ rejects?

    That giggle aside, you’re quite right about Stafford.

    And I didn’t even note her passing being mentioned at any of the usual news sites. Where’d you pick up on it?

  2. Dodd says:

    That observation is Dave’s, not mine. It’s hard to disagree with, though. Ever notice when actors are supposed to be acting – in the play within the play sense – badly? Gives one a new appreciation for how well they’re doing the rest of the time.

    As for where I happened across the news of the estimable Ms. Stafford’s death, credit Mr. Katz at the second link.

  3. sam says:

    Someone asked her if it was hard for her to sing like Darlene. It’s hard for Jo Stafford, she said, but it’s easy for Darlene.

  4. E. H. Lepiarczyk says:

    I am saddened by the death of Ms. Jo Stafford. She was simply a 20th century great! She was very popular with my father and mother’s generation in the 1950s. I once bought a Jo Stafford CD collection of her beautiful music as a wedding anniversary present for my father and mother.
    I was most impressed by the smoothness of Ms. Stafford’s voice. One of my favorite songs she performed was “Make Love to Me”. I would really like to find that particular song in a Karaoke CD+G disc; no such luck yet.
    Ms. Stafford’s music was enchantment that contemporary popular music rarely provides. I am extremely gratified to enjoy Ms. Stafford’s music in my lifetime.
    May God bless Ms. Stafford, her family, friends, and fans always. Heaven is surely brighter with her presence.