Duke Ellington Fact Sheet: Who was Duke Ellington? The following short biography and fact sheet provides interesting facts about the life, times and history of Duke Ellington, the famous American Composer and Jazz Musician.
Duke Ellington Fact File Biography: Lifespan: 1899 – 1974 *** Full Name: Duke Ellington was also known as Edward Kennedy Ellington *** Date of Birth (Birthday): He was born on April 29th, 1899 *** Place of Birth: Duke Ellington was born in Washington D.C. *** Family background: His father was James Edward Ellington *** Early life and childhood: Duke Ellington grew up and spent the majority of his childhood in Washington D.C. *** Education: Duke Ellington began his piano lessons with Henry Lee Grant and Oliver 'Doc' Perry *** Duke Ellington died on May 24, 1974 ***
Duke Ellington Fact 1: Edward Kennedy Ellington was born on April 29th, 1899 in Washington D.C. in the United States.
Duke Ellington Fact 2: He was
a famous American bandleader of
orchestras, pianist and composer who
played a major role in the history
of jazz music.
Duke Ellington Fact 8: He undertook private piano lessons by Henry Lee Grant at Dunbar High School in Washington D.C. A well known band leader called Oliver Perry (also known as Doc) helped to teach Duke Ellington how to read music and develop his talent.
Duke Ellington Fact 9: He met many professional pianists who inspired him greatly and gave him advice. He rejected an art scholarship in 1916 as he wanted to pursue a career in music. He began playing gigs in local clubs in Washington D.C.
Duke Ellington Fact 10:
He was introduced to Sonny Greer in
1919, he was a professional drummer
and he encouraged Duke to pursue his
dream of becoming a professional
musician. At the time, he worked as
a freelance sign-painter which meant
that he came into contact with many
potential clients, particularly the
ones who were buying a sign for a
party or special occasion. It wasn't
long before he had established a
successful career as a professional
Duke Ellington Fact 14: He earned many awards and honors during his long career as a musician including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award, the Legion of Honor by France, and a posthumous Special Pulitzer Prize which was awarded for his lifetime contributions to music and culture. A United States Commemorative stamp was issued on April 29, 1986 with an image of Duke Ellington on it.
Duke Ellington Fact 15: He also enjoyed a career in acting and appeared in various short films during the late 1920s to 1930s. The first film he starred in was called 'Black and Tan'.
Duke Ellington Fact 16: He earned his first Grammy Award in 1959 for the Best Sound Track Album for Anatomy of a Murder. During his music career, he achieved twelve Grammy Awards in total. His final one was earned in 1999 for his Historical Album, the Duke Ellington Centennial Edition.
Duke Ellington Fact 17: He composed many pieces of music during his lifetime, many well known pieces which hold historical significance including It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing), Cocktails for Two, Ellington at Newport, Far East Suite, Black, Brown and Beige, Black and Tan Fantasy, Moon Indigo and Take the A Train.
Duke Ellington Fact 18: His orchestra claimed fame throughout the world. After gaining a national profile through performances at Harlem's Cotton Club, the group went on to tour Europe. Duke Ellington's final performance took place on March 20, 1974 at Northern Illinois University.
Duke Ellington Fact 19: In 1976, Stevie Wonder wrote a song in honor of Duke Ellington, the legendary jazz musician. The title of the song is 'Sir Duke' and the lyrics refer to him as 'the king of all Sir Duke'.
Duke Ellington Fact 20:
He had lung cancer and died on May
24, 1974, at the age of 75 years,
following a severe bout of
pneumonia. Over 12,000 people
attended his memorial service which
was held at the Cathedral of St.
John the Divine. He was laid to rest
at Woodlawn Cemetery, The Bronx in
New York City.
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