I was in the wings for one of her more unforgettable concerts. She usually wore high heels, and one night during a performance, one of them became lodged between the boards. While she wobbled somewhat precariously, her bass player Keter Betts, noticing her distress, tried to get Jimmy's attention, but he was new on the job, and was peering intently at the music. In a loud stage whisper, Keter was practically shouting at Jimmy who finally looked up, saw Ella's predicament, leapt to her side, knelt down, grabbed her ankle and started to pull. With heroic effort, he managed to release her foot, and beat a hasty retreat back to the piano. Through every second of this Chaplin-esque routine, Ella never stopped singing. She received a well-deserved standing ovation, and so did Jimmy when she turned and invited him to share in the applause.
Though I have told this one on more than one occasion, it always pleases me to remember the moment as if it happened yesterday. We were sitting together in a VIP lounge in some European airport. I simply HAD to ask: "Ella - Is it possible you have a favorite song to sing?" Without a flicker of hesitation, she replied: "Oh yes", and began to sing the verse to Billy Strayhorn's "I Want Something To Live For". "Do you know it?", she asked. "Yes, I do", I said, and then we began to sing the rest of the verse and the chorus together. Now, not many people have had that experience, I'll wager.