Sunday, May 18, 2008

Featured Pipe Smoker: Earl "Fatha" Hines

Earl Kenneth "Fatha" Hines (1903-1983)

Jazz pianist Earl "Fatha" Hines, born in Duquesne, Pennsylvania, originally intended to play cornet like his father, but quickly discovered that doing so would prevent him from smoking a pipe while he played. But seriously, he supposedly dropped the cornet because the blowing made his head hurt. His mother was a church organist, and after giving up the cornet he studied piano, being classically trained to some extent. Hines had an ear for music, and was able to play popular show tunes and movie music after hearing it only once or twice.

He met Louis Armstrong in 1925, and by 1927 was directing Armstrong's band. In 1928 he began leading his own big band. In 1951 het re-met Armstrong and teamed up with him again for a few years. During the early 1960s he more or less retired from jazz and opened a tobacconist's shop in Oakland, California.

In 1964 he was "rediscovered" and became immensely popular and in-demand, recording regularly until his death in 1983.

Earl Hines was, and remains, an enormous influence on jazz music.

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