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Rhodes, Todd (Washington)

Rhodes, Todd (Washington)

Rhodes, Todd (Washington) , jazz pianist, arranger; b. Hopkinsville, Ky, Aug. 31, 1900; d. Flint, Mich., Feb. 16, 1963. Family moved to Springfield, Ohio, when Todd was four months old. Studied at the Springfield School of Music (1915–17), then four years at the Erie Cons. in Pa. Moved back to Springfield in 1921 and joined newly organized Synco Septette (which subsequently became McKinney’s Cotton Pickers). Remained with the Cotton Pickers until 1934 (working in the latter stages under Cuba Austin’s leadership). Gigged with local bands in Detroit until the early 1940s, then did war work in Detroit car factories, continued gigging, mainly as a solo pianist. Formed own quartet in 1946, following year increased to a seven-piece, began recording and playing long residencies in Detroit. Made several successful singles and began widespread touring, playing regular seasons in Fla. He is credited with discovering R&B singer LaVern Baker (who was in his band in 1952) and also giving Johnny Ray his first break.

—John Chilton, Who’s Who of Jazz/Lewis Porter

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