We continue the story of the talented and charismatic Nat King Cole and we are now into the 50s and the rising popularity of television music shows. Here is William Price King to pick up the story…
In 1953 the trio signed a deal with Capitol Records. A first hit tune “I’m Lost” helped make enough money to launch the trio and the recording company, too. Revenues from Cole’s sales played a major role in financing the Capitol Records building, which was known as “The house that Nat built.” Uploaded by Neil Arnold
The Nat King Cole Trio had the honor of playing in the very first “Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts.” The line-up of: piano, guitar, and bass became very popular and was emulated by the likes of Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, and Ahmad Jamal, to name a few. When Nat Cole wasn’t playing with his own trio he played on sessions with Lester Young, Lionel Hampton and others, but always under the pseudonym of “Aye Guy.”
Cole’s first mainstream vocal hit was one of his own compositions –“Straighten up and fly right,” based on a black folk tale that his father used as a theme for a sermon. This recording sold over 500,000 copies. It is said that this song led the way for “rock and roll.” Uploaded by VampsRawkZH
Once again, understanding the power of radio, the trio financed their own 15 minute spot (usually paid for by Ads), called the “King Cole Trio Time.” This was a “first” for black artists. Recordings from these shows eventually became commercial records.
With success knocking at his door, Nat King Cole decided to widen his base and ultimately his popularity by doing pop-oriented songs for mainstream audiences. This was highlighted by his introducing a string orchestra into his recordings. With his luscious baritone voice he turned out hit after hit, cementing his iconic stature with “The Christmas Song,” which he recorded four times; as a pure trio, with an added string section (twice), and for a double album – The Nat King Cole Story. His hits are legion: Route 66, Nature Boy, Mona Lisa, Unforgettable, to name a few. Here is the wonderful “Mona Lisa” Uploaded by Live and Tell
In 1956 Nat King Cole went on to do TV with the Nat King Cole Show on NBC. It was a first by an African American and created lots of controversy. Unfortunately the show was taken off the air because of a lack of sponsorship, despite the appearances of such greats at the time like Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Belafonte, Mel Tormé, Peggy Lee, Eartha Kitt, and others. Cole quipped after the show was killed: “Madison Avenue is afraid of the dark.”
Here is William’s version of the very well loved (Get your kicks on) Route 66, which became popular as “Route 66”, and is a rhythm and blues standard composed in 1946 by songwriter Bobby Troup.
The idea for the song came to Troup on a cross-country drive from Pennsylvania to California. Troup wanted to try his hand as a Hollywood songwriter, so he and his wife, Cynthia, packed up their 1941 Buick and headed west. The trip began on Highway 40 and continued along Route 66 to the California coast. Troup initially considered writing a tune about Highway 40, but Cynthia suggested the title “Get Your Kicks on Route 66.” The song was composed on this ten-day journey.
The lyrics read as a mini-travelogue about the major stops along the route, listing several cities and towns that Route 66 passes through.
“Route 66” was first recorded in 1946 by Nat King Cole, whose rendition became a hit on both the U.S. R&B and pop charts. Cole would later re-record the tune in 1956 (on the album After Midnight) and in 1961 (on the album The Nat King Cole Story).
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.
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Next time we will move into the 60s with this iconic singer and the last few years of his life.