Welcome to my Music Diary – today for the 12th March!
On the 12th March 1955, Jazz saxophonist Charles „Charlie“ Parker died of a heart attack at the age of 34 years. Charlie, also nicknamed „Bird“ or „Yardbird“, was a leading force in the development of Bebop and became also an icon of the „Beat Generation“.
Born on the 29th August 1920 in Kansas City, little Charlie began playing saxophone at the age of 11. In the following years he developed his own style by practing up to 15 hours a day. Parker played with local Jazz bands in Kansas and in 1938 he joined pianist Jay McShann’s territory band. One year later he moved to New York City and in 1942 he started to play with Earl Hines, whose band also featured Dizzy Gillespie. Charlie Parker also jammed with young groups at the Clark Monroe’s Uptown House and Minton’s Playhouse. During that period he also crossed paths with pianist Thelonious Monk, guitarist Charlie Christian and drummer Kenny Clarke.
On 26th November 1945, a historic Jazz session happened at the Savoy label. Charlie Parker recorded with Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis on trumpet, Curly Russell on bass and Max Roach on drums. During these sessions, the quintet played the legendary tracks „Ko-Ko„, „Billie’s Bounce“ and „Now’s the Time„. Finally, in 1956, it was releases as „The Charlie Parker Story„.
Charlie Parker became very soon an additc to heroin and he used the drug throughout his life. This caused always troubles for „Bird“ and he missed gigs and lost work regularly. On the 12th March 1955, Parker died in New York City in a suite at the Stanhope Hotel in New York City. The official causes were lobar pneumonia, a bleeding ulcer and a heart attack. He also had an advanced case of cirrhosis. The coroner estimated Parker’s 34 years old body to be between 50 and 60 years of age.