|Birth Day:||August 29, 1920|
|Death Date:||Mar 12, 1955 (age 34)|
|Birth Place:||Kansas City, United States|
As per our current Database, Charlie Parker died on Mar 12, 1955 (age 34).
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He joined his high school's band with a rented saxophone.
Charlie Parker Jr. was born in Kansas City, Kansas at 852 Freeman Avenue, and raised in Kansas City, Missouri near Westport and later – in high school – near 15th and Olive Street. He was the only child of Charles Parker and Adelaide "Addie" Bailey, who was of mixed Choctaw and African American background. He attended Lincoln High School in September 1934, but withdrew in December 1935, just before joining the local musicians' union and choosing to pursue his musical career full-time. His childhood sweetheart and future wife, Rebecca Ruffin, graduated from Lincoln High School in June 1935.
In late spring 1936, Parker played at a jam session at the Reno Club in Kansas City. His attempt to improvise failed when he lost track of the chord changes. This prompted Jo Jones, the drummer for Count Basie's Orchestra, to contemptuously take a cymbal off of his drum set and throw it at his feet as a signal to leave the stage. However, rather than discouraging Parker, the incident caused him to vow to practice harder, and turned out to be a seminal moment in the young musician's career when he returned as a new man a year later. Parker proposed to his wife, Rebecca Ruffin, the same year and the two were married on July 25, 1936. In the fall of 1936, Parker traveled with a band from Kansas City to the Ozarks for the opening of Clarence Musser's Tavern south of Eldon, Missouri. Along the way, the caravan of musicians had a car accident and Parker broke three ribs and fractured his spine. The accident led to Parker's ultimate troubles with pain killers and opioids, especially heroin. Parker struggled with drug use for the rest of his life.
Despite his near death experience on the way to the Ozarks in 1936, Parker returned to the area in 1937 where he spent some serious time woodshedding and developing his sound. In 1938 Parker joined pianist Jay McShann's territory band. The band toured nightclubs and other venues of the southwest, as well as Chicago and New York City. Parker made his professional recording debut with McShann's band.
In 1939 Parker moved to New York City, to pursue a career in music. He held several other jobs as well. He worked for nine dollars a week as a dishwasher at Jimmie's Chicken Shack, where pianist Art Tatum performed. It was in 1939 in New York that Parker had his musical breakthrough that had begun in 1937 in the Missouri Ozarks. Playing through the changes on the song "Cherokee", Parker discovered a new musical vocabulary and sound that forever shifted the course of music history.
One night in 1939, Parker was playing "Cherokee" in a practice session with guitarist William "Biddy" Fleet when he hit upon a method for developing his solos that enabled one of his main musical innovations. He realized that the 12 semitones of the chromatic scale can lead melodically to any key, breaking some of the confines of simpler jazz soloing. He recalled: "I was jamming in a chili house on Seventh Avenue between 139th and 140th. It was December 1939. Now I'd been getting bored with the stereotyped changes that were being used all the time at the time, and I kept thinking there's bound to be something else. I could hear it sometimes but I couldn't play it... Well, that night I was working over 'Cherokee' and, as I did, I found that by using the higher intervals of a chord as a melody line and backing them with appropriately related changes, I could play the thing I'd been hearing. I came alive."
In 1940, he returned to Kansas City to perform with Jay McShann and to attend the funeral of his father, Charles, Sr. He played Fairyland Park in the summer with McShann's band at 75th and Prospect for all-white audiences. The up-side of the summer was his introduction to Dizzy Gillespie by Step Buddy Anderson near 19th and Vine in the summer of 1940. After the summer season at Fairyland, Parker left with McShann's band for gigs in the region. On a trip to Omaha he earned his nickname from McShann and the band after an incident with a chicken and the tour bus.
In 1942 Parker left McShann's band and played for one year with Earl Hines, whose band included Dizzy Gillespie, who later played with Parker as a duo. This period is virtually undocumented, due to the strike of 1942–1943 by the American Federation of Musicians, during which time few professional recordings were made. Parker joined a group of young musicians, and played in after-hours clubs in Harlem, such as Clark Monroe's Uptown House. These young iconoclasts included Gillespie, pianist Thelonious Monk, guitarist Charlie Christian, and drummer Kenny Clarke. According to Mary Lou Williams, the group was formed in order "to challenge the practice of downtown musicians coming uptown and 'stealing' the music." She recalled: "Monk and some of the cleverest of the young musicians used to complain: 'We'll never get credit for what we're doing.' They had reason to say it... In the music business the going is tough for original talent. Everybody is being exploited through paid-for publicity and most anybody can become a great name if he can afford enough of it. In the end the public believes what it reads. So it is often difficult for the real talent to break through... Anyway, Monk said: 'We're going to get a big band started. We're going to create something they can't steal, because they can't play it.'"
On November 26, 1945, Parker led a record date for the Savoy label, marketed as the "greatest Jazz session ever." Recording as Charlie Parker's Reboppers, Parker enlisted such sidemen as Gillespie and Miles Davis on trumpet, Curley Russell on bass and Max Roach on drums. The tracks recorded during this session include "Ko-Ko", "Billie's Bounce" and "Now's the Time".
In December 1945, the Parker/Gillespie band traveled to an unsuccessful engagement at Billy Berg's club in Los Angeles. Most of the group returned to New York, but Parker remained in California, cashing in his return ticket to buy heroin. He experienced great hardship in California, eventually being committed to Camarillo State Mental Hospital for a six-month period.
A longstanding desire of Parker's was to perform with a string section. He was a keen student of classical music, and contemporaries reported he was most interested in the music and formal innovations of Igor Stravinsky and longed to engage in a project akin to what later became known as Third Stream, a new kind of music, incorporating both jazz and classical elements as opposed to merely incorporating a string section into performance of jazz standards. On November 30, 1949, Norman Granz arranged for Parker to record an album of ballads with a mixed group of jazz and chamber orchestra musicians. Six master takes from this session became the album Charlie Parker with Strings: "Just Friends", "Everything Happens to Me", "April in Paris", "Summertime", "I Didn't Know What Time It Was", and "If I Should Lose You".
Since 1950, Parker had been living in New York City with his common-law wife, Chan Berg, the mother of his son Baird (who lived until 2014) and his daughter Pree (who died at age 3). He considered Chan his wife, although he never married her, nor did he divorce his previous wife, Doris, whom he had married in 1948. His marital status complicated the settling of Parker's estate and would ultimately serve to frustrate his wish to be quietly interred in New York City.
From 1950 to 1954, Parker lived with Chan Berg on the ground floor of the townhouse at 151 Avenue B, across from Tompkins Square Park on Manhattan's Lower East Side. The Gothic Revival building, which was built about 1849, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994 and was designated a New York City landmark in 1999. Avenue B between East 7th and East 10th Streets was given the honorary designation "Charlie Parker Place" in 1992.
Although he produced many brilliant recordings during this period, Parker's behavior became increasingly erratic. Heroin was difficult to obtain once he moved to California, where the drug was less abundant, so he used alcohol as a substitute. A recording for the Dial label from July 29, 1946, provides evidence of his condition. Before this session, Parker drank a quart of whiskey. According to the liner notes of Charlie Parker on Dial Volume 1, Parker missed most of the first two bars of his first chorus on the track, "Max Making Wax." When he finally did come in, he swayed wildly and once spun all the way around, away from his microphone. On the next tune, "Lover Man," producer Ross Russell physically supported Parker. On "Bebop" (the final track Parker recorded that evening) he begins a solo with a solid first eight bars; on his second eight bars, however, he begins to struggle, and a desperate Howard McGhee, the trumpeter on this session, shouts, "Blow!" at him. Charles Mingus considered this version of "Lover Man" to be among Parker's greatest recordings, despite its flaws. Nevertheless, Parker hated the recording and never forgave Ross Russell for releasing it. He re-recorded the tune in 1951 for Verve.
In 1952, Parker and Gillespie released an album entitled Bird and Diz.
In 1953, Parker performed at Massey Hall in Toronto, joined by Gillespie, Mingus, Powell and Roach. Unfortunately, the concert happened at the same time as a televised heavyweight boxing match between Rocky Marciano and Jersey Joe Walcott, so the musical event was poorly attended. Mingus recorded the concert, resulting in the album Jazz at Massey Hall. At this concert, Parker played a plastic Grafton saxophone.
Parker's life took a turn for the worse in March 1954 when his 3-year-old daughter Pree died of illness. He attempted suicide twice in 1954, which once again landed him in a mental hospital.
Parker died on March 12, 1955, in the suite of his friend and patron Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter at the Stanhope Hotel in New York City, while watching The Dorsey Brothers' Stage Show on television. The official causes of death were lobar pneumonia and a bleeding ulcer, but Parker also had an advanced case of cirrhosis and had suffered a heart attack. The coroner who performed his autopsy mistakenly estimated Parker's 34-year-old body to be between 50 and 60 years of age.
Recordings of Charlie Parker were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, which is a special Grammy award established in 1973 to honor recordings that are at least twenty-five years old, and that have "qualitative or historical significance."
In 1995, the U.S. Postal Service issued a 32-cent commemorative postage stamp in Parker's honor.
In 2002, the Library of Congress honored his recording "Ko-Ko" (1945) by adding it to the National Recording Registry.
Currently, Charlie Parker is 101 years, 0 months and 24 days old. Charlie Parker will celebrate 102nd birthday on a Monday 29th of August 2022.
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