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Posts Tagged ‘Nat King Cole’

RIP, Dolores Fuller (May 9, 2011) Wrote A Number Of Songs For Elvis

Posted by on May 9, 2011

Dolores Fuller (Born Dolores Eble)
March 10, 1923 – May 9, 2011

Dolores Fuller is perhaps best remembered as the one-time girlfriend of notorious film maker, Ed Wood for whom she co-starred as the female lead in his cult classic, Glen or Glenda.  She also had minor roles in numerous other films during the ’50s and again in the ’90s.  Fuller made a more significant impact on pop music however, but oddly enough, as a songwriter.  When she was going after a role in Elvis Presley’s, Blue Hawaii, the film”s producer and Fuller’s friend, Hal Wallis – who knew of her songwriting talent – put her in touch with the publishing company that provided Presley with songs.  They brought her on, and it was there that she began writing such Presley classics like “Rock-A-Hula Baby,” “Spinout,” and “Do The Clam.”  In all, she wrote twelve songs for the King.  Fuller also penned tunes for Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee, Shelley Fabares, and Terry Stafford to name a few.  In 1994, Fuller was portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker in Tim Burton’s biopic, Ed Wood.   Dolores Fuller died on May 9, 2011 following a stroke.  She was 88.

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RIP, George Shearing (February 14, 2011) Popular Jazz Pianist and Composer

Posted by on February 14, 2011

George Shearing
August 13, 1919 – February 14, 2011

George Shearing was a popular and influential jazz pianist and composer who could claim over 300 pieces as his own.  Born blind in London, Shearing spent his early professional career playing in an all-blind band – he started playing the piano at just three years old.  During his late 20s, Shearing moved to the United States where he continued to master his complex style of swing, bop and bebop.  In 1949, he formed the George Shearing Quintet and went on to record for such labels as Verve, Capitol, and MGM.  His hits included “Lullaby Of Birdland” and “September In The Rain.”    Over the years he’s collaborated with the likes of Oscar Pettiford, Peggy Lee, Nat King Cole, and Mel Torme.  In 2007, he was knighted – Officer of the Order of the British Empire – for his contributions to music.  George Shearing died of heart failure on February 14, 2011.  He was 91.

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RIP, Jack Parnell (August 8, 2010) Bandleader For The Muppets

Posted by on August 8, 2010

Jack Parnell
August 6, 1923 – August 8, 2010

Jack Parnell was an English jazz drummer, pianist and bandleader who began playing is instruments at the age of five.  During WWII, he played in the RAF band.  He composed many television theme songs throughout his career, and in 1973, he became the first British musician to win an Emmy for his work on a Barbra Streisand special.   Over the course of his career, Parnell played with the likes of Lena Horne, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and Sammy Davis Jr.  From 1976 to 1981, Parnell served as the off-camera bandleader for The Muppets program.  Jack Parnell was 87 when he passed away on August 8, 2010.

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Died On This Date (July 31, 2008) Lee Young / Jazz Drummer

Posted by on July 31, 2010

Lee Young
March 7, 1914 – July 31, 2008

Lee Young was a respected jazz drummer, record producer, and A&R man who is credited for discovering Steely Dan.  He was also the younger brother of famed jazz saxophonist, Lester Young.  Throughout his career, he’s played with Billie Holiday, Fats Waller, Lionel Hampton, and Benny Goodman.  He was the drummer in the Nat King Cole Trio during the ’50s.  Lee Young passed away in his home at the age of 94.

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Died On This Date (July 13, 2008) Gerald Wiggins / Played with Louis Armstrong

Posted by on July 13, 2010

Gerald Wiggins
May 12, 1922 – July 13, 2008

Gerald Wiggins was a much respected classically trained jazz pianist who, over the course of his long career accompanied the likes of Louis Armstrong, Benny Carter, Lena Horne, Lou Rawls, Nat King Cole, and Eartha Kitt.  Television junkies may remember him for his cameos on 227 and Moesha.  Wiggins passed away at a Los Angeles hospital at the age of 86.

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Died On This Date (June 21, 1980) Bert Kaempfert

Posted by on June 21, 2010

Bert Kaempfert
October 16, 1923 – June 21, 1980

Bert Kaempfert was a German born musician and composer who is best remembered for penning the music for such standards as “Spanish Eyes” (Al Martino), “L.O.V.E” (Nat King Cole), and “Strangers In The Night” (Frank Sinatra).   But his biggest contribution to pop music was likely his hiring of the then unknown Beatles to back Tony Sheridan on “My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean,” “Ain’t She Sweet,” “Cry For A Shadow,” and “When The Saints Go Marching In.”  It was the first time they were put on record.  In 1980, Kaempfert died of a stroke at the age of 56.

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Died On This Date (June 5, 1999) Mel Torme

Posted by on June 5, 2010

Mel Torme
September 13, 1925 – June 5, 1999

Mel Torme was a jazz singer who they called, the Velvet Fog because of his beautiful voice.  He also did plenty of acting, first on radio and later in such films as Good News and  Frank Sinatra’s Higher and Higher. As a songwriter, Torme penned over 250 songs, many of them becoming jazz standards, including “The Christmas Song” which became a huge hit for Nat King Cole.  Torme continued to perform, record and act well into the ’90s.  In his later years, Torme appeared on such television shows as Seinfeld and Night Court. His 65-year career came to an abrupt end when he suffered a stroke in 1996.  He died of a second stroke on June 5, 1999.

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Died On This Date (April 29, 1935) Leroy Carr / Depression Era Blues Star

Posted by on April 29, 2010

Leroy Carr
March 27, 1905 – April 29, 1935

Leroy Carr was a blues singer, songwriter and pianist who didn’t quite fit the old blues man stereotype of the day.  As a suave young man from Indianapolis, his style of crooning would be more Nat King Cole than Muddy Waters; more Ray Charles than Robert Johnson.  And because of (or in spite of) that, he was one of the most popular blues men of the Depression era.  Some of his most popular recordings were with Scrapper Blackwell, with whom he recorded some 100 sides.  His most famous song, “How Long Blues,” was later covered by Eric Clapton.  Carr passed away of the effects of alcohol at just 30.

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Died On This Date (April 9, 1988) Brook Benton

Posted by on April 9, 2010

Brook Benton
September 19, 1931 – April 9, 1988

Brook Benton was an R&B singer from South Carolina who began his career in the late ’40s when he moved to New York and began writing songs for the likes of Clyde McPhatter and Nat King Cole. It wasn’t until 1959 that Benton scored a hit of his own with the release of “It’s Just A Matter Of Time” which shot up the #3 on the Billboard singles chart.  Benton’s last major hit came in 1970 with the release of of “Rainy Night In Georgia.” He passed away on April 9, 1988 from spinal meningitis at the age of 56, but not before charting 49 songs on the Billboard singles chart.

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Died On This Date (March 15, 1959) Lester Young / Jazz Legend

Posted by on March 15, 2010

Lester Young
August 22, 1909 – March 15, 1959

lester-young.jpgLester young was one of the most influential musicians to come out o jazz’s golden age. During that era, we had the “King” of Swing, “Count” Basie, and “Duke” Ellington, but Young kept it less regal and more American by being called “The Pres,” a nickname given to him by Billie Holiday. Young recorded with many of his great peers, including Count Basie, Jo Jones, Billie Holiday and Nat King Cole. To some, he was a bit of an eccentric, perhaps because he was not very trusting of anyone outside his inner circle. In fact, he created his own language that only his closest friends could understand. In his final years, Young was barely surviving some bad habits that he had developed, including heavy drinking and minimal eating. This lead to liver disease and serious malnutrition, the major contributors to his death at age 49 when he literally drank himself to death.

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