Nat King Cole

From ArticleWorld

Nathaniel Adams Coles, better known as Nat King Cole, was a popular jazz musician and singer. He was born in Montgomery, Alabama in approximately 1916, although the actual date is unknown. Nat’s family moved to Chicago, Illinois soon after his birth.

Music Beginnings

Cole’s father was a minister and his mother played both the piano and organ for the church. Nat got his singing and musical background in the church, where his mother was the only piano teacher Cole ever had. Gospel music was what Cole learned first, but he did not stop there. He went on to learn jazz extensively, as well as classical. The neighborhood the Cole family lived in was known for its jazz clubs, and Cole would often sneak out of the house to listen to the musical talents of musicians like Earl Hines, Jimmie Noone, and Louis Armstrong.

Singing Career

While still a teenager, he adopted the name Nat Cole and began a band with his brother. They performed regularly at local clubs, one of which is where the nickname "King" came from. Cole joined a ragtime and Broadway tour as the pianist and ended up in California.

Nat Cole joined up with three other musicians to form the "King Cole Swingers" and later moved to Los Angeles to form the Nat King Cole Trio, which featured Cole on the piano, Wesley Prince on bass, and Oscar Moore on the guitar. They played locally quite often, but Cole didn’t reach high musical status until "Sweet Lorraine" came along. The trio made a deal with Capital Records in 1943, and Cole stayed here for the rest of his career.

Cole’s first huge hit was "Straighten Up and Fly Right," which was followed by the popular "Mona Lisa" in 1950. Then, six years later, he released his all-jazz album, After Midnight. Other popular songs he recorded include "(Get your Kicks On) Route 66," "The Christmas Song," and "Stardust."

Personal Life

Nat King Cole and his second wife, Maria Ellington, had five children, three of which were adopted. Two of Cole’s children, Natalie Cole and Freddie Cole, are singers. Cole was a very heavy smoker and he died in 1965 from lung cancer.