Nat King Cole – Biography and Songs

Nathaniel Adams Cole popularly known as Nat King Cole was born on March 17 1919 and gave up the ghost (died) on February 15, 1965. Until his death, Nat King Cole was an American singer, song writer and Jazz pianist who was born in the southern city of Montgomery, Alabama.

nat king cole
Image of Nat King Cole – Singer, Actor, Television Personality, Television Actor, Film Actor, Pianist (1919–1965)

Quick Facts

Quick facts about Nathaniel Adams Cole popularly known as Nat King Cole.
NameNathaniel Adams Cole
Date of BirthMarch 17, 1919
Death DateFebruary 15, 1965
Age45Years
Place of BirthMontgomery, Alabama, U.S.A.
Place of DeathSanta Monica, California, U.S.A
OccupationMusician, Song writer and Pianist
Active years in service1934–1965
EducationDuSable High School
ChildrenNatalie Cole.
Carole Cole.
Casey Cole.
Timothy Cole.
Nat Kelly Cole.
Cause of DeathLung Cancer

Nat King Cole Biography and Life

He was born into a Christian family of Mr. Edward Coles who was a Baptist minister and Mrs. Perlina Coles; they had 6 children 4 boys and 2 girls namely; Nathaniel Cole, Freddy Cole, Eddie Cole, Ike Cole, Evelyn Cole and Joyce Cole.

His family moved to Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago, where he attended Wendell Philips Academy High School which was also located at Bronzeville.

He learned to play the piano at a very tender age and his mum was the only piano teacher he ever had and by the time he was 12 years old he started playing piano at his father’s church. For some reason, He wasn’t able to complete his education, at age fifteen he dropped out from school to pursue his music career.

Early Life and Growing up.

Nat King Cole had his first performance at the age of four which is “Yes! We Have No Bananas”, and there after he began his formal lessons at age 12. By the time he was 15, he dropped out of school to concentrate more on his music career.

In the year 1936, after his brother who was a bassist returned home from a tour with Noble Sissle, they had a sextet and recorded 2 singles for Decca. You can see some of the best Bluetooth headphones here

After his marriage with his first wife Nadine Robinson at the age of 17, he worked as a pianist at night clubs until a club owner asked him to form a band which he did by hiring a bassist: Wesley Prince and a Guitarist: Oscar Moore and he called the band “KING COLE SWINGSTERS”.

They later changed their name to the KING COLE TRIO after the nursery rhyme in which “old King Cole was a merry old soul”.

Marital Life

At the age of 17, Nat king Cole had gotten married to a pretty damsel Nadine Robinson who he met while he was on a tour for the all-black Broadway musical “shuffle along” with his crew. His marriage only lasted for 12 years and he hurriedly married another lady named Maria Hawkins Ellington just 6 days after his divorce on March 28 1948.

Nat King Cole’s Children

Their union was blessed with five kids;

  • Natalie Cole: who took after her father,
  • Carole Cole,
  • Casey Cole,
  • Timoty Cole and
  • Nat Kelly Cole.

His wife, never the less, was of great support to him , up until his final sickness before he eventually died of lung cancer.

About Natalie Cole – Music Daughter of Nat King Cole.

His daughter Natalie followed her dad’s footstep – learnt how to sing, grew up to become a good singer and recorded many songs after her father’s death. In the year 1991, she recorded an album called “UNFORGETTABLE” now known as Nat king Cole unforgettable – which contained about 22 of her dad’s song. With recent technology she was able to mix her voice with a recording of her father singing the same song.

Nat King Cole and Racism.

Being a black, he was plagued with racial discrimination; he was the first black person to live with his family at the Los Angeles neighborhood of Hancock Park. Before he was able to move into the neighborhood he had a legal battle with the Hancock Park property Owners Association who tried to prevent him from buying the house simple because he is a black and not a Caucasian.

His neighbors didn’t want him and did everything possible to ensure that they was uncomfortable in the environment, they went as far as poisoned meat to their dog which killed him, they also defaced their lawn.

He also experienced racism when he started out his TV Series- The NAT KING COLE Show, which featured leading performers of the day, but unfortunately it was scrapped off the following year because he had no sponsor, no one wanted to back him up simply because he was an African American entertainer.

Struggles Faced in his Music Career.

In the year 1956 he had a very brutal experience on stage. He was forcefully knocked down on stage by 4 vicious men who were white supremacists that he hit his head and back on the piano stool, it didn’t stop at that point they dragged him into the auditorium luckily for him the policemen arrived early enough to stop those men from beating him blue black.

Despite these ordeals he never took on racism related issues rather he always expressed that he was more of a performer and not an activist.

Involvement in Politics

During his time, he also did had some political involvements; he sang at the 1956 Republican National Convention in the Cow Palace, Daly City, California, to show support for President Dwight D, Elsenhower.

He was also present at the Democratic National Convention in 1960 to support Senator John Kennedy. He also performed at the kennedy inaugural gala in 1961.

Nat King Cole Dies of a heart Disease – Health Issues that eventually led to his death.

In 1964 Nat King Cole discovered through medical experts that on his left lungs was a malignant tumor in an advanced stage of growth, that is he had lung cancer because he was a strong smoker, he vowed he was going to urge people to stop smoking on his recovery, he eventually gave up to the disease on February 15 1965 at the age of 45 in Santa Monica California.

He was buried days later on the February 18 at St. James Episcopal Church on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, a lot of people graced his burial ceremony including dignitaries such as Robert F. kennedy, Jack Benny, Frankie Laine, Count Baise, Steve Allen, Pat Brown, Jimmy Durante and many more.

Nat King Cole Songs and Albums.

In his life time he was able to record over 100 pop chart singles in the studio (you can see some of the best studio headphones here, for mixing and mastering) over 24 chart albums, and sold over 50 million records.

These have been rediscovered by the younger generation of admirers, climaxing with the 1991 release of the complete capitol recording of the trio and a duet sang by his daughter, overdubbing her father on “UNFORGETTABLE”. He lived a fulfilled life and left a lasting legacy that would live on despite his demise.

DISCOGRAPHY

Album 1: CAPITOL 78-RPM ALBUM

  • The King Cole Trio (1945)
  • The King Cole Trio volume 2 ( 1946)
  • The King Cole Trio Volume 3 (1947)
  • The King Cole Trio Volume 4 (1949)

Album 2: CAPITOL 10 ALBUMS

  • Nat King Cole at the piano (1950)
  • Harvest of Hits (1950)
  • King Cole for Kids (1951)
  • Penthouse Serenade (1952)
  • Top Pops ( 1952)
  • Nat King Cole Sings for Two in Love ( 1953)
  • Unforgettable ( 1954)

Album 3: CAPITOL 12 ALBUMS

  • Penthouse Serenade ( 1955)
  • The Piano Style of Nat King Cole ( 1955)
  • After Midnight (1957)
  • Just One of Those Things (1957)
  • Love is the Thing (1957)
  • Cole Espanol (1958)
  • St. Louis Blues(1958)
  • The Very Thought of You (1958)
  • To Whom it May Concern (1958)
  • Welcome to the Club (1959)
  • A Mis Amigos (1959)
  • Tell me all about yourself (1960)
  • Every time I Feel the spirit(1960)
  • Wild is Love(1960)
  • The magic of Christmas(1960)
  • The Nat King Cole Story (1961)
  • The Touch of Your Lips ( 1961)
  • Rambling Rose (1962)
  • dear lonely Heart (1962)
  • More Cole Espanol (1962)
  • Those lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer (1963)
  • Where Did every one go? (1963)
  • Nat King Cole Sings My Fair Lady (1964)
  • Let’s face the music (1964)
  • I Don’t want to Be Hurt Anymore (1964)

Nat King Cole at the Sands (1966)

Album 4: OTHER COMPILATION ALBUM

  • Unforgettable (1965)
  • Sings Hymns & Spirituals (1965)
  • Nat King Cole Trio: The Vintage Years (1965)
  • Nature Boy (1965)
  • Stay as sweet as you are (1967)
  • Best of Nat King Cole (1968)
  • The Magic of Christmas with Children (1970)
  • Love is Here to Stay (1974)
  • 20 Golden Greats (1977)
  • Greatest Love Songs (1982)
  • Hit That Jive, Jack (1990)
  • Jumpin’ at Capitol (1990)
  • Capitol Collectors’ series (1990)
  • Cole, Christmas, & Kids (1990)
  • The complete Capitol Recordings of the Nat King Cole Trio (1991)
  • Christmas Favorites (1992)
  • The Best of Nat King Cole Trio: The Instrumental Classics (1992)
  • The Billy May sessions (1993)
  • Let’s Face the Music & Dance (1994)
  • Retro (1997)
  • The Frim Fram Sauce (1998)
  • Dear Lonely Hearts/I Don’t Want to Be Hurt Anymore (1998)
  • Looking Back/Where Did Everyone Go? (1999)
  • Live at The Circle Room (1999)
  • Route 66 (2000)
  • The King Swings (2001)
  • Try Not to Cry(2001(
  • Stepping Out of Dream (2003)
  • The Classic singles (4-CD book) (2003)
  • The One and Only Nat King Cole (2003)
  • Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy days of summer/ My Fair Lady (2004)
  • The very Best of Nat King Cole (2006)
  • Re: Generations 2009
  • The Extraordinary Mat King Cole (2014)

Hit Songs and Fame

One of the most popular song of this group which peaked number one on the Harlem Hit Parade and the Most Played Jukebox Hillbilly Records is titled “STRAIGHT UP AND FLY RIGHT” which was inspired by one of his dads sermon.

As a member of King Cole Trio, he went on various tours and in the Year 1943 the group tasted breakthrough success with “THAT AIN’T RIGHT” which was actually written by him.

In the year 1940 he made his first hit from his record titled “SWEET LORRAINE” record has it that is career as a vocalist got a stepping stone when a drunken bar patron demanded that he sings the song, luckily for him one of the nights a customer asked him to sing a particular song which was unknown to him but because he didn’t know the lyrics of the requested song he decided to sing his song “sweet Lorraine “ his audience got intrigued by his vocal talent and as such requested for more vocals which he obliged to.

Even in modern day today, Nat King cole is still very popular among pianist, musical arts and singers and is likely to get some rare stamps printed in his name, in honour of him.

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Music Career Success.

In 1944 Nat King Cole appeared in the first jazz at the Philharmonic concerts. He continued to enjoy success and top the music charts with many pop singles and holiday classics.

He pursued his career as a solo artist during the 1950s which he was successful at, he earned many hits which include; “MONA LISA”, “TOO YOUNG”, “UNFORGETTABLE” AND “NATURE BOY” with time he was able to work with some of the biggest names in music like Louis Armstrong, Nelson Riddle, Ella Fitzgerald etc.

In the late 1950s his career had a setback, luckily for him it didn’t last long because in the early 1960s his career took a good turn again, with his song “RAMBIN ROSE” he was able to top chart in the year 1962.

In 1964 he made his last appearance on the music charts and achieved and average success with the “I DON’T WANT TO HURT ANYMORE” and “I DON’T WANT TO SEE TOMORROW”.

The popularity of Nat king cole (one of the greatest singer and pianist that have ever lived) can only be compared to very rare figures among the old and for the younger generation. Even in death, His name is still very much fresh in the entertainment world. No doubt, Nathaniel King Cole popularly known as “King Cole” is one of the greatest singer and pianist this generation has ever seen.

Resources and References

Nat King Cole is born – History channel
Nat king cole grammys – Grammy Official

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