Charlie Parker life and biography

Charlie Parker picture, image, poster

Charlie Parker biography

Date of birth : 1920-08-29
Date of death : 1955-03-12
Birthplace : Kansas, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Famous Figures
Last modified : 2010-07-12
Credited as : Musician and composer, famous saxophonist,

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Charlie Parker , also known as Charles Christopher Parker, Jr. , born 1920 August 29, 1920 – died March 12, 1955. Famously called Bird, or Yardbird, Charlie was an American jazz saxophonist and composer.

It is the consensus of jazz critics that no modern jazz musician played with the brilliance of alto saxophonist Charlie Parker. His professional career lasted half his life--some seventeen years--and he left as his legacy about one hundred records made during his last decade. They preserve examples of the melodic bursts and rhythmic innovations that earned him his nickname, "Bird" or "Yardbird," because his inspiration and the purity of his music was considered birdlike. According to Dizzy Gillespie, Parker invented bebop, the jazz sound of the postwar period. He was so highly regarded that in 1949, when he was twenty-nine years old, a jazz club on Broadway in Manhattan was renamed Birdland in his honor.

Drugs and Despair.
Charlie Parker was a legend before his death at the age of thirty-five. A man of huge appetites, he overindulged frequently. He was a neurotic, hospitalized twice for mental breakdowns, and he was a drug addict whose habit caused him to misbehave flamboyantly. In February 1954 his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Pree died of pneumonia. After that Parker was through. He was unable to reconcile himself to her death, and what had been a dangerous drug habit became a suicidal plunge into despair.

In August 1954 he was booked to play Birdland with singer Dinah Washington. Both she and Parker had August birthdays and legendary capacities for alcohol. They got drunk, and he was unable to perform as contracted. The manager had a camera girl take Parker's picture for posterity and then fired him from the club named in his honor. Parker went home, argued with his common-law wife Chan, and attempted suicide by drinking a bottle of iodine. He was committed to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, where he stayed, except for a two-week trial release, until mid October. Two weeks later he played Town Hall in New York City, followed by a succession of grueling and demeaning club dates that only deepened his depression.

Last Performance.
Charlie Parker's last public appearance was at Birdland on 5 March 1955, and the show was as stormy as in 1954. After a Saturday evening of unprofessional bickering with his sidemen, he stormed off the stage and was banished from Birdland again. Before he left, he told his bass player, "Mingus, I'm going someplace, pretty soon, where I'm not going to bother anybody."

The following Wednesday he began vomiting blood while visiting his friend Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, aristocratic jazz connoisseur and patroness, at her suite in the Stanhope Hotel in Manhattan. She called her doctor, who ordered Parker to bed. The baroness agreed to care for him in her apartment. That Saturday he collapsed while watching the Tommy Dorsey variety show on television. He died from a heart attack induced, apparently, by bleeding ulcers and cirrhosis of the liver.

Memorial. Parker died broke.
A benefit concert for his son and wife at Carnegie Hall on 2 April sold out, raising about $5,740. At 3:40 A.M. police closed down the show, which had begun at midnight, and the musicians who had not yet had an opportunity to play their tribute to Parker created a scene. Gillespie, Art Blakey, Thelonious Monk, Billie Holiday, Stan Getz, Oscar Pettiford, Lester Young, and Horace Silver were among the musicians who appeared on the stage in front of an audience of 2,760 jazz fans that night. It was a fitting tribute to the greatest of all bebop saxophonists, who found perfection in his music and bitter disappointment in the rest of his life.

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