• 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.  He is 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.