Posted by themusicsover on April 26, 2010
William “Count” Basie
March 24, 1904 – April 26, 1984
Count Basie is one of most important jazz musicians and band leaders in American history. Born in Red Bank, New Jersey in 1904, Basie was encouraged by his mother to learn the piano, paying 25 cents a lesson for the young boy. Dropping out of junior high school, he took a job at a local movie house where one day when the regular pianist failed to show up for work, Basie took over playing behind the silent films. He never looked back. By his late teens he was playing at local parties, dances and talent shows, and when he wasn’t playing, he was hustling for his next gig. In the mid ’20s, Basie was fully immersed in the jazz scene that was building in Harlem. He would lead his Count Basie Orchestra on and off for the next fifty years. Throughout his astounding career, Basie played for royalty around the world; recorded with a who’s who of popular music – from Frank Sinatra to Duke Ellington, from Billie Holiday to Sarah Vaughan; won nine Grammys; had four songs selected to the Grammy Hall of Fame; appeared on television and in film; and performed at John F. Kennedy’s inaugural ball. He passed away of pancreatic cancer on April 26, 1984 at the age of 79.
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