I never had a chance to play with dolls like other kids. I started working when I was six years old.
Singing songs like ‘The Man I Love’ or ‘Porgy’ is no more work than sitting down and eating Chinese roast duck, and I love roast duck.
People don’t understand the kind of fight it takes to record what you want to record the way you want to record it.
Dope never helped anybody sing better or play music better or do anything better. All dope can do for you is kill you – and kill you the long, slow, hard way.
Mom and Pop were just a couple of kids when they got married. He was eighteen, she was sixteen and I was three.
All dope can do for you is kill you… the long hard way. And it can kill the people you love right along with you.
In this country, don’t forget, a habit is no damn private hell. There’s no solitary confinement outside of jail. A habit is hell for those you love. And in this country it’s the worst kind of hell for those who love you.
I’m always making a comeback but nobody ever tells me where I’ve been.
There’s no damn business like show business – you have to smile to keep from throwing up.
Sometimes it’s worse to win a fight than to lose.
One day a whole damn song fell into place in my head.
If I don’t have friends, then I ain’t got nothing.
If I’m going to sing like someone else, then I don’t need to sing at all.
I never hurt nobody but myself and that’s nobody’s business but my own.
I hate straight singing. I have to change a tune to my own way of doing it. That’s all I know.