Nat "King" Cole - American
Nat "King" Cole, a member
of Thomas Waller Lodge 49 in Los Angeles, was an
American jazz pianist, singer and one of the first
African Americans to have his own television show.
Since his death in 1965, he has remained enormously
popular worldwide, adding five posthumous Grammy's to
the single one he received during his lifetime.
Cole owed his success to a
soft baritone voice.
credited with pioneering the sophisticated West Coast
nightclub style of singing and playing, and with
emphasizing the piano as a solo rather than a rhythm
instrument--an influence still felt in the jazz world.
In 1944 and 1945, Downbeat magazine voted the King
Cole Trio the top small combo. By the early 1950s,
Cole had turned to pop with such songs as Walking My
Baby Back Home, It's Only a Paper Moon, and For
Sentimental Reasons. In the mid -1950s, riding on the
success of one of his best-remembered hits, When I
Fall in Love, Cole was given his own musical
television series, breaking color barriers and making
musical history. Cole's smooth, mellow hits--such as
Mona Lisa and Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer--have
retained their popularity for four decades with
audiences throughout the world.
He was convinced smoking
enhanced his rich singing tone and maintained a
three-pack-a-day habit during his adult years. Prior
to each recording session, he would smoke several
cigarettes in quick succession to enhance the effect.
Regrettably, the practice took his life at the young
age of 45 when he died of lung cancer in 1965.