Nat King Cole Biography

Review The Artist (7)

Nat King Cole-photo
Pianist, singer and bandleader Nat "King" Cole may have made his name as a singer, but his work as a pianist is most musically significant. Taking the intricacies of Earl "Fatha" Hines' right-hand lines and coupling them with the more spare, left-hand ones developed by Count Basie, Cole's impact on subsequent generations of pianists is far-reaching.

Cole was born in Montgomery, Ala., on March 17, 1917. By the age of 4, Cole's family had moved to Chicago, where he started playing organ and singing in his father's church. Along with his jazz musician brothers Fred, Eddie and Isaac, Nat made his recording debut on Decca (1936) for the group Eddie Cole's Solid Swingers. Cole left Chicago that same year, and eventually settled in Los Angeles. He formed his trio with guitarist Oscar Moore and bassist Wesley Prince, a group that would become known as the Nat Cole Trio. His trio format was to influence Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson and Ahmad Jamal, among others. Cole maintained a trio until 1951, recording for Decca, and later for Capitol.

Arguably, Cole's most important recordings were from the early '40s. Among them is a 1942 date with Lester Young and Red Callendar, and a later date with Young and Buddy Rich for Verve. In 1943, the Cole Trio had a hit with "Straighten Up And Fly Right," setting off his career as a singer. From 1944-'46, Cole toured and recorded as part of Norman Granz's Jazz At The Philharmonic. After his No. 1 hit "Mona Lisa" in 1950, Cole soon earned his own radio and television show. He died in Santa Monica, Calif., on Feb. 15, 1965.

In 1997, Cole was elected by the Readers into the Down Beat Hall of Fame.

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Memories | Reviewer: W.Harvey | 5/8/14

I grew up listening to Nat King Cole's Christmas songs. His voice captivated me to listen to anything he sang. I have created memories with songs like autumn leaves. Timeless music I love it!!

"The Greatest." | Reviewer: Angus C.M. Condy. | 11/30/13

I have loved Nat "King" Cole's voice , and great musicianship all my life,and I have always maintained that he was the finest singer , and musician of them all . Unfortunately for Nat , he was the wrong colour in "The Land of The Free." Aye , I'm sure ! So many of his recordings have taken their place as timeless classics. A.C.M.C. II. 1305/Sat/30/11/2013.

Nat King of the coolest men's voice ..yesterday and today. | Reviewer: glory from the city of Vienna | 6/7/13

I was then 12 yrs. old when he passed away ..but everytime i heared his song played somewhere or anywhere i have to stopped and listened.He had a unique voice that fascinates everyone..young or old people.I kept on listening and playing his wonderful songs until now..For me ..Nat King Cole is still one of the best singer..musician..pianist.. of all seasons.Mostly of his songs are still popular nowadays.. his music..portraits.. memories remain alive.. thank you Nat for giving us inspirations through your undying,beautiful songs.

There will never be another you. | Reviewer: Isabelle Welsh | 6/2/13

I grew up listening to Nat King Cole. He was truly a beautiful man. He performed at the O'Keefe Centre in Toronto shortly before his death; his final song. with audience participation, was "Ramblin' Rose". Now that my husband has died, "The touch of your lips" can still bring many memories of days gone by. Happy days. He was one of a kind.

Nat Cole as I see him | Reviewer: Anonymous | 7/30/11

I have been a Nat Cole diehard since about 1944. He made a whole different career with his vocals, which were, if not great, verry good. But it was his jazz piano that caught me. He was a pianist first, vocalist second. And I don't give Natalie any credit for recalling his image. The way I see it is that she trades on his success. She could do OK on her own but I resent that she made records with her father. That is bogus in my mind. FH

Nat King | Reviewer: Ed | 5/14/09

I am of that "Oh my God are you still alive" stage. I and my Brother have sang Nat's songs for years. Sentimental Rasons is one of our favorites. Nat King Cole was one of the gratest. We had so many wonderful singers, musicians and artists during "our" period of time. The trash we have today is not music. I am proud to have had our time in life. And I am proud to have had the wonderful artists who were able to tell a joke with out using the foul language they use today. If what they do today is Art, then I am sorry for what this world has become. Mr Cole, thank you.

The "Entertainer" and Vocalist Shirley Diamond | Reviewer: Shirley Diamond | 11/29/07

I have had a love for "Nat King Cole" since I was a little girl in the 50's until this day 2007, I sing his songs. My mother introduced me to his music. I am learning the lyrics to "Route 66." I am singing the song this Friday.

Atlanta's on Shirley Diamond

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