Coles, Nathaniel Adams
1917 - Born on March 17th in Montgomery, Alabama. An American musician hailed as one of the best and most influential pianists and small-group leaders of the swing era. Cole attained his greatest commercial success, however, as a vocalist specializing in warm ballads and light swing.
1929 - Cole grew up in Chicago where, by age 12, he sang and played organ in the church where his father was pastor.
1934 - He formed his first jazz group, the Royal Dukes.
1937 - After touring with a black musical revue, he began playing in jazz clubs in Los Angeles. There he formed the King Cole Trio (originally King Cole and His Swingsters), with guitarist Oscar Moore and bassist Wesley Prince (later replaced by Johnny Miller).
1943 - Their first chart success, "Straighten Up and Fly Right", was followed by hits such as "Sweet Lorraine," "It's Only a Paper Moon," "(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons," and "Route 66."
1946 - He first recorded with a full orchestra (the trio serving as rhythm section) for "The Christmas Song," a holiday standard and one of Cole's biggest-selling recordings.
1950-1956 - He worked almost exclusively as a singer, with such notable arrangers as Nelson Riddle and Billy May providing lush orchestral accompaniment. "Nature Boy," "Mona Lisa," "Too Young," "A Blossom Fell," and "Unforgettable" were among his major hits of the period. He occasionally revisited his jazz roots, as on the outstanding album "After Midnight", which proved that Cole's piano skills had not diminished.
1961-1963 - Cole had greater success with concert performances during the late 1950s and early '60s and twice toured with his own vaudeville-style reviews, "The Merry World of Nat King Cole" and "Sights and Sounds". His hits of the early '60s— "Ramblin' Rose," "Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer," and "L-O-V-E" —indicate that he was moving even farther away from his jazz roots and concentrating almost exclusively on mainstream pop.
1965 - He died on February 15th in Santa Monica, California. Adapting his style, however, was one factor that kept Cole popular up to his early death from lung cancer.
Page last updated: 12:10pm, 24th Feb '07