A poll-winning, jazz pianist, Cole, led a classic piano, bass and drums trio, initially singing to break what he perceived as the monotony of the instrumentals. He soon discovered that it was the unique satin quality of his voice that pulled in the customers. Signed first to Decca Records, his career took off at Capitol Records, where he was given an increasing array of commercial songs for singles, resulting in around 120 chart hits. Racial problems persisted in the 60s and he was hailed at one point as an ‘Uncle Tom’ by the NAACP and then he was attacked on stage by mindless Klan members. At one point he could not find sponsors for his TV show due to his colour, although he did obtain roles in various Hollywood productions. He out-rode it all with great dignity and sheer talent. He possessed a remarkable voice, truly ‘unforgettable’, and he remained at the top of his profession until his death from lung cancer in February 1965 just a few weeks before his 46th birthday
Followers: Freddie Cole, Danny Williams, Johnny Mathis, Sammy Davis Jr, Oscar Peterson
Influenced By: Earl Hines, Charles Brown...