Betty Hall Jones


Betty Hall Jones (January 11, 1911 – April 20, 2009), was an American boogie-woogie pianist, singer, songwriter and arranger.


She was born Cordell Elizabeth Bigbee in Topeka, Kansas, the daughter of Archie Bigbee, a part-time cornetist and leader of a brass band. She learned piano from her uncle in California, where she was raised after her family moved there in 1921. Around 1927, she married a banjoist, George Hall, and then had two children, but divorced after a few years. In 1936, as Betty Hall, she got a job as a backup pianist for Buster Moten in Kansas City. She returned to Los Angeles to play with Roy Milton from 1937 through 1941, then joined Luke Jones' trio, with whom she recorded. She married Jasper Jones in the early part of the decade, taking the name Betty Hall Jones. By 1942 she had joined Paul Howard's Quality Serenaders as pianist and arranger, but also led her own Betty Hall Jones Trio in clubs and hotels, mostly in southern California where she was raising her children.

In 1946 she wrote songs recorded by Alton Redd's band, and, with Luke Jones, recorded with Joe Alexander's Highlanders on the Atlas label. She also recorded under her own name in 1947 for Atomic Records, leading a group that included Jones and, on some recordings, saxophonist Maxwell Davis. She signed for Capitol Records in 1949, and released a string of singles on the label including "This Joint's Too Hip For Me", probably her best-known recording. As a writer, her songs were recorded by Ray Charles ("Ain't That Fine") and Nellie Lutcher ("My New Papa's Got To Have Everything"). However, her own recordings were not chart hits. She left the Capitol label the following year, but continued to perform widely, and recorded for the Dootone and Combo labels in the early 1950s. She worked at the Hotel Sorrento in Seattle, Washington, for seven years, and became noted for the flamboyant hats which she wore while performing, switching from one to another between songs.

In the 1960s and 1970s she did USO tours in East Asia and toured Australia and Mexico in addition to regular dates in nightclubs on Sunset Boulevard. She toured Sweden and England in the 1980s, and continued performing into the 1990s despite illness.

She died in Torrance, California, in 2009, aged 98.

A compilation of her recordings, The Complete Recordings 1947-1954, was issued in 2005.


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