Rockabilly bombshell Lillian Briggs was born in 1932 and raised in Allentown, PA. She was splitting duties playing trombone in Joy Cayler's All-Girl Orchestra with her day job driving a laundry truck when in 1952 she was discovered by legendary DJ Alan Freed, who featured Briggs in a series of his New York stage shows. Seemingly poured into her skin-tight silver and gold lamé dresses, the singer immediately became a crowd favorite, and in 1954 talent scout Jack Petrill helped land her a solo contract with Epic. Briggs' punchy 1955 debut single "I Want You to Be My Baby" went on to sell over a million copies, and she became a staple of the variety show circuit, appearing on Jack Paar's Tonight Show and The Steve Allen Show and graduating to the big screen for the 1961 Jerry Lewis vehicle The Ladies Man. However, Briggs' recording career stalled, and a series of novelty singles -- including "Boogie Blues," "The Teens in Jeans From New Orleans," and "Rock and Roly-Poly Santa Claus" -- went nowhere. She also recorded for the Coral and Sunbeam labels before retiring from music in the early '70s. Briggs then relocated to Miami Beach, where she became a partner in the waterfront resort Turnberry Isle; her business dealings made her a very wealthy woman, and she lived the high life during the decades to follow. Her many personal connections also made her a footnote to one of the biggest scandals of the 1980s -- Briggs regularly loaned her yacht "Monkey Business" to various friends and contacts, and it was aboard the ship that aspiring Presidential candidate Gary Hart was photographed with mistress Donna Rice, bringing his political aspirations to a swift end. Briggs died of lung cancer in Miami on April 11, 1998.
Share this page