In part four of the series A Man and his Music with William Price King we relive the final years of the short life of Nat King Cole. Although Nat was only 45 when he died he had performed for over 30 years and had been a huge influence on the music of the time.
His influence was not restricted to the world of music as he gained the respect of Presidents and statesmen as he campaigned for racial equality in all walks of life.
William Price King picks up the story…………
Not only was Nat King Cole an iconic figure in music but he was particularly appreciated by the President of the United States in the 1960s. He was present at the Democratic National Convention in 1960 to throw his support behind Senator John F. Kennedy who won the presidential election against Richard Nixon. Cole was also among the dozens of entertainers recruited by Frank Sinatra to perform at the Kennedy Inaugural gala in 1961. Cole frequently consulted with President Kennedy (and later President Lyndon B. Johnson) on civil rights. As he was often the victim of blunt racism in the South in particular, and throughout the country in general, his support for integration and his fight against racism were highly appreciated by both presidents.
Two of his most famous quotes against racism are: “I am an American citizen and I feel I am entitled to the same rights as any other citizen.” And, “I may be helping to bring harmony between people through my music.”
Nat King Cole was an international figure on the world stage. He traveled extensively, doing highly successful concert tours of Latin America, Japan, the European Continent and England. In London, he performed at a Royal Command Performance for Queen Elizabeth II.
Nat was chosen by Paramount Pictures to play W.C. Handy in the movie about the composer’s life, “St. Louis Blues.” St. Louis Blues is a 1958 American film broadly based on the life of W.C. Handy. It also starred jazz and blues greats Pearl Bailey, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, and Eartha Kitt, as well as gospel singer Mahalia Jackson and actress Ruby Dee. In conjunction with the film, Cole recorded an album of W. C. Handy compositions arranged by Nelson Riddle, and Fitzgerald incorporated “St. Louis Blues” into her concert repertoire.
Nat King Cole with Barney Bigard, Teddy Buckner etc: W. C.Handy’s “Careless Love”
Nat King Cole’s last album, L-O-V-E was recorded in early December 1964—just a few days before he entered the hospital for cancer treatment—and was released just prior to his death. It peaked at #4 on the Billboard Albums chart in the spring of 1965. A “Best Of” album went gold in 1968.
Nat’s last recording session came on Dec. 3, 1964. “L-O-V-E” was one of the three songs Nat recorded that day, and he would pass away less than 3 months from the date of this session. Nat knew at the time of this recording that he was headed to the hospital.
His 1957 recording of “When I Fall In Love” reached #4 in the UK charts in 1987.
Cole was inducted into both the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. In 1990, he was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 1997 was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame. In 2007, he was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.
Some famous quotes by Nat King Cole:
“I’m a musician at heart, I know I’m not really a singer. I couldn’t compete with real singers. But I sing because the public buys it.”
“If I could read it, I could play it.”
“I’m an interpreter of stories. When I perform it’s like sitting down at my piano and telling fairy stories.”
And as a last treat
Here is William Price King with his wonderful version of “Don’t Get Around Much anymore”. The song is a jazz standard with music by Duke Ellington and lyrics by Bob Russell. The tune was originally called “Never No Lament” and was first recorded by Ellington in 1940 as a big-band instrumental. Russell’s lyrics and the new title were added in 1942.
Nat King Cole recorded this song on the “Just One Of Those Things” album in the summer of 1957. It was arranged and conducted by Billy May and produced by Lee Gillette for Capitol Records. The album was released in November 1957.
About William Price King
William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.
His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.
His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.
William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking
William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.
You can find the other artists in the previous series here:
We hope you have enjoyed the series and please let us know as well as share the post with your networks.. Coming soon… Nat King Cole’s talented daughter.. Natalie Cole.
Thanks for dropping by.. Sally