29 June 1925
New York City, New York, United StatesDied9 September 1999 (aged 74)
Étampes, FranceSpouse(s)Charlie Parker; Phil Woods
Woods was born Beverly Dolores Berg in New York City, New York of partial Jewishancestry. She was a dancer and jazz enthusiast. She met Parker in the 1940s, but their friendship did not become romantic until years later. As it developed, their relationship had to surmount several obstacles, not the least of which were Charlie’s frequently ungovernable drug and alcohol abuse and the simple fact of sharing love across a racial divide that the society of the era was hugely invested in maintaining.
Woods complained that taxis would not pick Parker up because of his race, and mentioned that the two of them often attracted stares because their relationship was interracial at a time when American society was still highly segregated. However, in the jazz world, which had long been integrated, it was not an issue. Woods indicated in her memoirs that Parker protected her, to a degree, from both these problems.
There were other strains as well. Their relationship was dealt a severe blow with the death of their daughter, Pree, a year and a week before Charlie Parker’s own death.
After Parker’s death in 1955, Chan married saxophonist Phil Woods and relocated to France, where she spent much of the rest of her life. In her later years, she went on to write a memoir,My Life in E-Flat, which discusses her life with Charlie Parker. It was published in 1999, the year of her death, which occurred in Étampes, France.