Occupation: songwriter, Conductor, Pianist
Education: Armstrong Technical High School
Location: Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York City.
Birth Place: Washington DC.
Marital Status: married
Birth Date: April 29, 1899
Death Date: May 24th, 1974
Status & Notes
Background: Born on April 29, 1899, Ellington was raised by two talented, musical parents in a middle-class neighborhood in Washington DC. At 7years old, he started studying piano and got the nickname "Duke" for his gentlemanly ways. Inspired by his job as a soda jerk, he wrote his first composition, "Soda Fountain Rag," when he was 15. Despite being awarded an art scholarship to the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, Ellington followed his passion for ragtime and started to play professionally when he was 17. In the 1920s, Ellington performed in Broadway nightclubs and was the bandleader of a sextet, a group which in time grew to a 10-piece ensemble. Ellington sought out musicians with unique playing styles, just like Bubber Miley, who used a plunger to make the "wa-wa" sound, and Joe Nanton, who gave the world his trombone "growl." At different times, his ensemble included the trumpeter Cootie Williams, cornetist Rex Stewart and alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges. Ellington made hundreds of recordings with his bands, appeared in films and on radio, and toured Europe on two occasions in the 1930s.
Ellington's fame rose in the 1940s when he composed several masterworks, which including "Concerto for Cootie," "Cotton Tail" and "Ko-Ko." Some of his most popular songs included "It Don't Mean a Thing if It Ain't Got That Swing," "Sophisticated Lady," "Prelude to a Kiss," "Solitude," and "Satin Doll." A number of his hits were sung by the impressive Ivie Anderson, a favorite female vocalist of Duke's band.
Im getting married to Edna Thompson!!
It was Ellington's sense of musical drama that made him stand out from the rest. His blend of melodies, rhythms and subtle sonic movements gave audiences a new experience—complex yet accessible jazz that made the heart swing. Ellington's autobiography, Music Is My Mistress, was published in 1973. He earned 12 Grammy awards from 1959 to 2000, nine while he was alive. At the age of 19, Ellington married Edna Thompson, who had been his girlfriend since high school, and soon after they were married, she gave birth to their only child, Mercer Kennedy Ellington.
playing in a night club today with my group.
On May 24, 1974, at the age of 75, Duke Ellington died of lung cancer and pneumonia. His last words were, "Music is how I live, why I live and how I will be remembered." More than 12,000 people attended his funeral. He was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York City.
Jazz music is my passion.