Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
Combining the heartfelt balladry of Hank Williams, the avant-garde vision of Igor Stravinsky and Captain Beefheart, and the hard-driving sounds of Patti Smith, Sandy Dillon created some of the most innovative music of the 1990s. In addition to featured recordings of her self-described "jazz-punk western blues," she has also worked with avant-garde ensembles such as Ensemble Modern and Man Parrish.
Raised in Massachusetts' Cape Cod, Dillon began playing piano at the age of six. After studying classical music at the Berklee College of Music, she relocated to New York with hopes of launching her career. Living in the infamous Chelsea Hotel, she earned a living by playing jazz piano in gay bars and supper clubs, and portraying Janis Joplin in a Broadway musical based on the life of the late musician.
Signed by Elektra in the early '90s, Dillon's music was met with resistance from the label. Her first two albums went unreleased despite the production work of Mick Ronson. The label finally agreed to release her third attempt, Dancing on the Freeway, as her debut album in 1995, but it was her last for Elektra.
Working with her husband and collaborator, Steve Bywaters, in their home studio, Dillon continued to record. Her second album, Skating, released on the independent Bonjour label in 1996, was followed by Electric Chair, which she called "an album of torch songs where the woman doesn't get burned," in July 1999 and East Overshoe in 2001. When Bywaters died of a sudden heart attack shortly after completing East Overshoe, Dillon was left on her own for the first time in more than a decade. In the summer of 2002, Dillon started work on a new album. One Little Indian released Nobody's Sweetheart in 2004. Pull the Strings followed in 2006, and Living in Dreams appeared in 2008.