Spotlight on ....

Nat King Cole

Born Nathaniel Adams Cole on March 17th, 1919, he was the son of a Baptist minister and a mother who sang soprano and directed the choir in her husband’s church. Cole grew up in Chicago; mat and married a girl called Maria Hawkins and had five children.
The first sign that young Cole was destined for a musical career came aged four, he played the organ in his father’s church and in school organised a 14-piece band, with himself as pianist and leader.

In 1937, after finishing school, Cole joined a road company of the revue, “Shuffle Along”. He wrote his first song “Straighten Up and Fly Right” which he sold for $50.00. Following that he was offered $75.00 a week for an instrument quartet. He hired a guitarist, bass fiddle player and a drummer. On opening night the drummer didn’t show but the manager of the club took the trio on board. The “King Cole Trio” developed a large and faithful following and were offered their own radio show.

A new career was created for Cole when a drunken customer insisted on hearing him sing “Sweet Lorraine”. To quiet the man up, he sang the tune and launched his legendary singing career.

In 1942, Cole became one of the first artists to join Capitol Records. With his Trio, he recorded such popular songs as “Straighten Up and Fly Right”, “Sweet Lorraine” and “Embraceable You”. Throughout his life he always sang with his Trio even when he began to sing with an orchestra. Cole became one of the world’s leading record-sellers.


In 1956, Cole had his own network television show on NBC-TV. The “Nat King Cole Show” attracted a wide audience and celebrity guests. But the most thrilling point of his career was when Paramount chose him to play the role of the late W.C. Handy in the motion picture of the late blues composer’s life “St Louis Blues”.
Cole was as popular in other countries as he was in the United States. In 1959, he made a whirlwind personal appearance tour of nine South American countries, giving 33 perfromances in two months. The following year he flew to Europe for his third concert tour, visiting 15 cities including London, where he gave a command performance before Queen Elizabeth 11. In 1961, Cole left for a concert tour of Japan where his records outsold any other recording artist.
In August 1962, Cole was given the ultimate tribute. An overflow audience of more than 900 packed the Embassy Room of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles to honour Nat King Cole on his 25th anniversary in show business. Celebrities from the world’s of politics and entertainment showered him with honours and praise.
Nat King Cole died of lung cancer on February 15th, 1965, it was a loss felt all over the world. He left a musical legacy for generations to come. All over the world today, his songs are played and as long as those songs continue, Nat King Cole will live.
I have one very special copy of the new Nat King Cole –“The World of Nat King Cole” to give away to the first person to correctly tell me –
What are the names of Nat’s five children?
E-Mail entries to:
michele@mmonro.freeserve.co.uk


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