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Nat “King” Cole

Nat Cole
Nat King Cole
Nathaniel Adams Coles
Nathanial Adam Cole

Pianist, Vocalist, Bandleader, Composer, Radio Host, TV Host, Actor

(1919 - 1965)

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Nat “King” Cole’s enormous success as a vocalist overshadows the fact that he was a highly respected jazz pianist who inspired musicians such as pianist Oscar Peterson and bassist Michael Moore. Cole grew up in Chicago amidst many opportunities to hear live jazz, and the budding pianist stood outside the clubs and listened, especially to Earl “Fatha” Hines who was revolutionizing jazz piano. As a teenager he took his band into the Savoy Ballroom and bested Hines’ group in a cutting contest.

Born Nathaniel Adams Coles in Montgomery, Alabama, on March 15, 1919, he was four when the family moved to Chicago. His father was a Baptist preacher, and his mother, a choir director, passed on her love of music to the children. Nat’s older brother Eddie was a professional bassist and his youngest brother, (Lionel) Freddy, is a renowned pianist/vocalist. Nat received formal music education, played organ in the church, and turned professional in his teens, dropping the “s” from his last name.

In 1937 Nat was touring with Shuffle Along when the company was stranded in California. He stayed on the West coast, put together his first trio with guitarist Oscar Moore and bassist Wesley Prince and was crowned “King” Cole after the nursery rhyme.

Cole had begun singing with the trio, and their 1939 recording of “Sweet Lorraine” brought attention to the group. In 1943 they recorded Cole’s “Straighten Up and Fly Right” for fledgling Capitol Records, and by 1944 it was a million-seller. The theme of the song was taken from one of his father’s sermons. Unfortunately, Cole had sold the song to music publisher Irving Mills for $50 with no royalty rights.

The trio, with Cole’s vocals, was hitting the charts--“Frim Fram Sauce,” “Route 66,” “For Sentimental Reasons,” and “The Christmas Song.” His 1948 recording of “Nature Boy” reached gold status, and he began to focus on his vocal career, now calling the group Nat King Cole and the Trio, with the addition of a drummer.

Henry Pleasants in The Great American Popular Singers says, “Nat Cole had a way of caressing a word, of wrapping his voice around it. So close, so intimate was this identification with the music implicit in language that I, for one, cannot evoke the memory of his voice without the words to go with it.”

In the early ‘50s Cole’s troubles with the IRS no doubt prompted him to cover more pop material to the chagrin of jazz fans. In 1955 he disbanded his trio although he brought them together with guest stars in 1956 to record the jazz-oriented After Midnight.

The fifties produced such hits as the Academy Award winning “Mona Lisa,” “Too Young,” “Walkin’ My Baby Back Home,” and “Unforgettable.” He had a radio show, appeared in films, and hosted his own TV show. Despite the show’s popularity and Cole’s elegant presence, sponsors were reluctant to support a black host.

The international star continued to follow a rigorous schedule of personal appearances and recordings until he was diagnosed with cancer in 1964. He died on February 15, 1965, just short of his 46th birthday.

--Sandra Burlingame


Complete After Midnight Sessions

Nat King Cole



The Christmas song

Nat King Cole



Love Songs

Nat King Cole



10-CD Set

Nat King Cole



The World Of Nat King Cole

Nat King Cole



Hit That Jive Jack: The Earliest Recordings

Nat King Cole



Complete Recordings With Lester Young

Nat "King"' Cole



Nat King Cole Trio: Instrumental Classics

Nat "King" Cole



Lush Life

Nat King Cole, Pete Rugolo Orchestra



The Very Best of Nat King Cole

Nat King Cole, Nat King Cole
Reading and Viewing

At Amazon.com you can often buy used for a fraction of the new price


Daniel Mark Epstein

Nat King Cole

Northeastern University Press

Biography


Maria Cole

Nat King Cole: An Intimate Biography

William Morrow

Biography


Leslie Gourse

Unforgettable: The Life and Mystique of Nat King Cole

St Martins Pr

Biography


Nat King Cole

Nat "King" Cole Unforgettable: Piano/Vocal/Chords (Legendary Performers, Vol 9)

Alfred Publishing Co., Inc.


The World Of Nat King Cole

Capitol

DVD


Nat King Cole - The Incomparable Nat King Cole, Vols. 1 & 2

White Star

DVD


An Evening with Nat King Cole

Image Entertainment

DVD


Nat King Cole Collection

PASSPORT VIDEO

DVD


Ann-Margret, Louis Armstrong, Jack Benny, Nat ‘King' Cole, Perry Como

The Legendary Crooners - Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Perry Como

Standing Room Only

DVD


Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Nat ‘King' Cole, Dorothy Dandridge, Duke Ellington

Harlem Renaissance / Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Nat King Cole

Kultur Video

DVD


The Unforgettable

Mpi Home Video

VHS


Biography - Nat King Cole: Loved in Return

A&E Home Video

VHS


The Blue Gardenia

Kino Video

VHS - Cole sang on soundtrack

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