Cole, Nat King

views updated Jun 27 2018

Nat King Cole

Singer, songwriter, pianist

For the Record

Selected discography


Nat King Cole was one of the most popular performers in the history of the music business. From the early 1940s with his jazz combo, the King Cole Trio, through his later solo career, he was responsible for numerous hit records, including pop and ballad classics such as Sweet Lorraine, Nature Boy, The Christmas Song, Ramblin Rose, and Mona Lisa. Cole was one of the first recording artists to sign with Capitol Records, and was that companys most dependable talent for many years. Perhaps because of his enormous success with both black and white music fans, in 1957 he became the first black man to host a variety show on national television. Cole also appeared in motion pictures; his best remembered film performance, as a strolling balladeer in Cat Ballou, was completed a few months before his death in 1965.

Born Nathaniel Adams Coles on March 17, 1919, in Montgomery, Alabama, to a Baptist minister and his wife, Cole moved with his family to Chicago, Illinois, as a young child. Soon afterwards, at the age of four, he gave his first public performance, singing Yes, We Have No Bananas in a talent contest. Despite the fact that his older brother Edward had to push him onstage, young Nat won a turkey.

Coles mother, Perlina, taught him to play the piano in the hopes that he would someday become a classic pianist. According to Maria Cole, the singers second wife, in her book, Nat King Cole: An Intimate Biography, his musical talents were quickly put to practical, if not classical, use. In kindergarten, he played piano for the teacher as musical accompaniment to classroom games. By the time Cole was eleven, he and his sister shared the piano duties of their fathers ministry at the True Light Baptist Church. But when he was sixteen, his interests turned to jazz, and he formed his own group, the Royal Dukes. They played for small change, or, as Maria Cole recounted, when they couldnt get cash, often settled for hot dogs and hamburgers. Nat did not sing, because the other members of the group did not like his voice. Shortly afterwards, however, Cole left the Dukes to join the group his brother had formed, the Rogues of Rhythm.

The Rogues eventually joined the cast of Shuffle Along, a black musical revue. While Cole was serving as the revues pianist, he became acquainted with Nadine Robinson, one of its dancers. As the show was en route to California, Robinson became Coles first wife, but Shuffle Along closed when it got to Long Beach, leaving Cole unemployed. He began playing piano in Los Angeles area bars to support himself. In one of these bars, Cole was discovered by another club owner, Bob Lewis, who urged Cole to form a small backup group and drop the s from his surname. Lewis wanted

For the Record

Full name Nathaniel Adams Coles; born March 17, 1919, in Montgomery, Ala. ; daughter of Edward James (a Baptist minister) and Perlina Coles; married Nadine Robinson (a dancer), c 1937 (marriage ended); married Maria Hawkins Ellington (a singer), 1948; children: Carol (adopted), Natalie, Kelly (adopted son), Timolin, Casey (twin daughters); died of lung cancer in Santa Monica, Calif., February 15, 1965. Education: Wendell Phillips High School, Chicago.

Singer, pianist. Formed musical group, The Royal Dukes, c 1935; joined brother Edwards group, The Rogues of Rhythm, c 1936; joined revue Shuffle Along, c. 1936; played piano in bars in Los Angeles, Calif., 1937. Formed the Nat Cole Swingsters Three (later the King Cole Trio), 1937; solo recording artist and concert performer, 195165. Appeared in films including China Gate and Cat Ballou. Had own radio show during late 1940s; own television show for National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), 1957.

Awards: Recipient of many gold records.

Addresses: Record companyCapitol Records, 1750 North Vine Street, Hollywood, CA 91522.

the more traditional quartet, but Cole could only find two other suitable musiciansthus, with the help of Wesley Prince on bass and Oscar Moore on guitar, the Nat Cole Swingsters Three began their first steady job in Lewiss club.

The group, quickly renamed by Lewis as the Nat King Cole Trio, was at first strictly instrumental. A traditional story says Cole was first led to use his voice professionally because of a persistent, drunken customer who kept demanding that he sing Sweet Lorraine. More accurately, according to Maria Cole, the pianist began to sing a little to break the monotony of solid instrumental numbers. Though the Trio soon acquired renown in the Los Angeles area, a nationwide tour was not particularly successful.

But when Glenn Wallichs got together with songwriter Johnny Mercer and producer Buddy DeSylva to form Capitol Records in 1942, he remembered meeting Cole and his band, and decided to sign them to a record contract. By 1943 the Trio had recorded its first hit, Straighten Up and Fly Right. A few years later, when Cole met his second wife, the former Maria Ellington, he was already well-known throughout the United States due to recordings like Sweet Lorraine, Its Only a Paper Moon, and Get Your Kicks on Route 66. In 1948, when his divorce became final and he married Maria, Nature Boy, a song he recorded the previous year, became a tremendous hit and transformed Cole into a household name.

As time went on, Cole realized that he was having far more hit records when he sang solo ballads backed by a big band than when he played and sang jazz with the trio. In 1951, a year after he released what is perhaps his most famous song, Mona Lisa, he left the trio and ceased playing the piano on his records. Even so, Cole is still recognized, in the words of critic Terry Teachout in High Fidelity, as an extraordinarily gifted jazz pianist. The decision proved a turning point in the singers career, and many gold records, featuring what Teachout described as Coles dark, grainy baritone, followed. Unforgettable, Ballerina, When Youre Smiling, and Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer are a few of the hits that helped make Cole a favorite of music fans in the United States and worldwide. As Maria Cole explained, Nats impeccable taste and vocal styling established him not only as one of the leading crooners of the day, but also as one of the best song salesmen in the business. He could take the most unlikely lyric and transform it to a hum or whistle on everybodys lips. She quoted Wallichs as once saying: All the publishers offer [Capitol] a tune for him first, because they know if Cole sings it, they have an eighty to twenty chance of having a hit.

In late 1964, while still experiencing much success as a concert performer and recording artist, Cole developed a severe cough and searing chest pains. A smoker, he was diagnosed with a fast-growing, cancerous tumor of the lung. Cole checked into a Santa Monica hospital in December; he died on February 15, 1965. Besides remaining popular through the legacy of his many recordings, Cole served as an influence for other pop balladeers, including Johnny Mathis, and Coles own daughter, Natalie.

Selected discography

Singles on Capitol

Straighten Up and Fly Right, 1943.

Sweet Lorraine, 1943.

Embraceable You, 1943.

Its Only a Paper Moon, 1943.

Body and Soul, 1944.

What Is This Thing Called Love? 1944.

There, Ive Said It Again, 1944.

Stormy Weather, 1945.

Youre Nobody Til Somebody Loves You, 1945.

Dont Blame Me, 1945.

Sweet Georgia Brown, 1945.

Im in the Mood for Love, 1946.

Get Your Kicks on Route 66, 1946.

What Can I Say, Dear, After I Say Im Sorry? 1946.

The Christmas Song, 1946.

(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons, 1946.

In the Cool of the Evening, 1946.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, 1946.

Youre the Cream in My Coffee, 1946.

Honeysuckle Rose, 1947.

Makin Whoopee, 1947.

Too Marvelous for Words, 1947.

How High the Moon, 1947.

Three Little Words, 1947.

Nature Boy, 1947.

Dream a Little Dream of Me, 1947.

Then Ill Be Tired of You, 1947.

Two Front Teeth, 1949.

My Baby Just Cares for Me, 1949.

I Almost Lost My Mind, 1950.

Mona Lisa, 1950.

Frosty the Snow Man, 1950.

Red Sails in the Sunset, 1951.

Too Young, 1951.

Unforgettable, 1951.

Walkin My Baby Back Home, 1951.

You Stepped Out of a Dream, 1952.

Polka Dots and Moonbeams, 1952.

Somebody Loves Me, 1952.

Laura, 1952.

Lover Come Back to Me, 1953.

Tenderly, 1953.

Almost Like Being in Love, 1953.

Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup, 1953.

Smile, 1954.

Tea for Two, 1955.

Breezin Along With the Breeze, 1955.

Taking a Chance on Love, 1955.

Dont Blame Me, 1955.

Just One of Those Things, 1955.

I Want to Be Happy, 1955.

You Can Depend on Me, 1956.

Ballerina, 1956.

Caravan, 1956.

When I Grow Too Old to Dream, 1956.

Tangerine, 1956.

Stardust, 1956.

Its All in the Game, 1956.

When I Fall in Love, 1956.

Aint Misbehavin, 1956.

When Sunny Gets Blue, 1956.

Blue Moon, 1957.

Dont Get Around Much Anymore, 1957.

Whos Sorry Now? 1957.

Once in a While, 1957.

The Partys Over, 1957.

I Understand, 1957.

An Affair to Remember, 1957.

Fascination, 1957.

Maria Elena, 1958.

The More I See You, 1958.

I Found a Million Dollar Baby, 1958.

The Very Thought of You, 1958.

Impossible, 1958.

Mood Indigo, 1958.

Lorelei, 1958.

Only Forever, 1960.

I Remember You, 1960.

Capuccina, 1961.

Cold, Cold Heart, 1961.

September Song, 1961.

Ramblin Rose, 1962.

Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer, 1963.

Ive Grown Accustomed to Her Face, 1963.

I Could Have Danced All Night, 1963.

On the Street Where You Live, 1963.

People, 1964.

Youre My Everything, 1964.

More, 1964.

My Kind of Girl, 1964.

The Girl From Ipanema, 1964.

(With Stubby Kay) The Ballad of Cat Ballou, 1964.

They Cant Make Her Cry, 1964.


King Cole Trio, Trio Days, Capitol.

Anatomy of a Jam Session, Black Lion.

The Genius of Lester Young, Verve.

Jazz at the Philharmonic, 194446, Verve.

Cole Español, Capitol.

Cole Español (And More), Vol. 2, Capitol, 1987.

The Complete After Midnight Sessions, Capitol, 1988.



Cole, Maria, with Louie Robinson, Nat King Cole: An Intimate Biography, Morrow, 1971.


High Fidelity, June, 1988.

Jet, August 18, 1986, March 20, 1989.

People, May 1, 1989.

Elizabeth Thomas

Cole, Nat King 1919—1965

views updated May 18 2018

Nat King Cole 19191965


Early Musical Career

King Cole

Developed Enthusiastic Following

Moved Away from Jazz

Became Showcased Singer

Not Immune to Racial Prejudice

Selected discography


Nat King Cole was born Nathaniel Adams Coles in 1919 in Montgomery, Alabama. When Cole was four years old, his father, Edward, a Baptist minister, accepted a pastorship of a church in Chicago. The family, which included Coles mother, Perlina, his older brother, Edward, and two sisters, Eddie Mae and Evelyn, moved north. Two younger brothers, Issac and Lionel (called Freddie), were born later in Chicago. Perlina Coles, choir director at her husbands church, introduced her children to music early on and all four of her sons became professional musicians. As a small child, Cole could pump out Yes, We Have No Bananas on the piano and liked to stand in front of the radio with a ruler in his hand, pretending to conduct an orchestra. At age 12, Cole began taking formal lessons in piano and also began playing the organ in his fathers church. If his keyboard skills werent needed at church, he was put into the choir.

While attending Wendell Phillips High School, Cole became enamored of jazz music. The African American community on Chicagos southside was a center of jazz action in the 1930s. Cole and his older brother Eddie went as often as possible to hear jazz and be with jazz musicians. When admission to a performance could not be afforded, Cole would stand in alleys listening at the stage door. He was most influenced by the style of pianist Earl Fatha Hines. It was his driving force that appealed to me I was just a kid and coming up, but I latched onto that new Hines style. Guess I still show the influence today, Cole told John Tynan of Down Beat in 1957.

Early Musical Career

As a teenager, Cole organized two musical groups~a 14-piece band called the Rogues of Rhythm, and a quintet called Nat Coles and his Royal Dukes. He would play with whichever group could get a booking. In addition to music, athletics played a big role in Coles adolescence and his talent on the baseball diamond drew the interest of scouts from the Negro Leagues. Cole remained a sports fan throughout his life. The only sport Im not interested in is horse racing, and thats because I dont know the horses personally, Cole told The Saturday Evening Post in 1954.

At age 16, Cole became the pianist for the Solid

At a Glance

Born Nathaniel Adams Coles, March 17, 1919, in Montgomery, AL; son of Edward James (a Baptist minister), and Perlina Adams Coles (a choir dir. and music instructor); married Nadine Robinson (a dancer), 1937 (divorced, 1946); married Maria Hawkins Ellington (a singer), 1948; children: daughters Carol (adopted), Natalie, Timolin, Casey, and son Kelly (adopted), all children are from the second marriage; died of lung cancer in Santa Monica, CA, February 15, 1965. EducationAttended Wendell Phillips High School, Chicago.

Career: Jazz pianist, occasional vocalist, the King Cole Trio from 1937 to early 950s; began recording as a vocalist of pop music in 1946. Recordings with the King Cole Trio include Straighten Up and Fly Right, 1944; Route 66, 1944; Sweet Lorraine, 1944; For Sentimental Reasons, 1946; and The Christmas Song, 1946. Solo recordings include Nature Boy, 1948; Orange Colored Sky, 1950; Mona Lisa, 1950; Unforgettable, 1951; Too Young, 1951; Somewhere Along the Way, 1952; Pretend, 1953; Answer Me, My Love, 1953; Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup, 1953; A Blossom Fell, 1955; Ramblin Rose, 1962; and Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer, 1963.

Film appearances include: (as a performer with the King Cole Trio) The Stork Club, 1945, See My Lawyer, 1945, Breakfast in Hollywood, 1946; (as an actor) China Gate, 1957, Istanbul, 1957, St. Louis Blues, 1958, Night of the Quarter Moon, 1959, Cat Ballou, 1965.

Radio and television work includes: a weekly radio program with King Cole Trio, 1946-47, and a television variety show, The Nat King Cole Show, NBC, 1956-57.

Swingers, a quintet formed by his brother Eddie. Late night engagements made keeping up with academic work difficult and Cole gradually dropped out of school before earning a diploma. In 1936, as pianist for the Solid Swingers, Cole participated on several records for the Decca companys Sepia Series. These were race records aimed at black audiences. Though the Solid Swingers recordings did not enjoy much popularity, the fact that a record company had been interested enough to make them in the first place was a big encouragement for Cole to pursue a career in music.

In 1937, Cole and his brother Eddie joined a revival of the revue Shuffle Along. After a six week run in Chicago, the show went on the road. During the tour, Cole married dancer Nadine Robinson. When the Shuffle Along company suddenly folded in Long Beach, California, Cole and Robinson decided to stay on the West Coast. To pay the rent, Cole took whatever job was available. It was a tough workout. I must have played every beer joint from San Diego to Bakersfield, Cole told the Saturday Evening Post. Despite having to play on out of tune pianos at third rate venues, Coles extraordinary talent was noticed and he was soon a regular performer at the Century Club, a favorite hangout for Los Angeles area jazz musicians. All the musicians dug him. We went there just to listen to him because nobody was like him. That cat could play! He was unique, said a musician who saw Cole at the Century Club to biographer James Haskins.

King Cole

In late 1937 or early 1938, dates differ, Cole was asked to put together a small group to play at the Sewanee Inn, a Los Angeles nightclub. Cole got guitarist Oscar Moore, bassist Wesley Prince, and drummer Lee Young to join the group. When Young failed to appear on opening night, the group went on as a drummer-less trio. Cole was still using his real name Coles. Sewanee Inn owner Bob Lewis nicknamed him King Cole and requested that he wear a gold paper crown during performances. The crown soon disappeared but the nickname stuck. The group became known as the King Cole Trio and its leader became Nat King Cole.

Developed Enthusiastic Following

The music scene of the late 1930s was dominated by dance orchestras or big bands. A trio, especially one without a drummer, was an oddity. Nonetheless, the King Cole Trio developed an enthusiastic local following and found almost constant work at Los Angeles nightspots, including many clubs which had never before hired black performers. The trio recorded with vibraphonist Lionel Hampton and made some recordings of their own for the race record market. In early 1941, the trio went on a national tour and ended up spending several months in New York City, playing at top jazz clubs. Though the trio was primarily an instrumental group, Cole occasionally supplied a vocal line to add variation. The shy Cole was a reluctant singer who did not think he had much vocal talent. Even after becoming one of the most popular singers in the world, his opinion was unchanged. He told the Saturday Evening Post in 1954My voice is nothing to be proud of. It runs maybe two octaves in range. I guess its the hoarse, breathy noise that some like.

In 1942, soon after the United States entered World War II, the trios bassist Wesley Prince was drafted into the military. He was replaced by Johnny Miller. Cole was exempted from the draft. Differing accounts attribute this to either flat feet or hypertension. The trio settled into a 48-week run at Los Angeles 331 Club. In 1943, the trio was signed by Capitol Records, a fledgling operation founded in the previous year by well-known lyricists Johnny Mercer and Buddy DeSylva, and record store owner Glen Wallichs. The trios Capitol recording of Straighten Up and Fly Right, with Cole on piano and as featured vocalist, became a hit in 1944. The song appealed to both black and white audiences and crossed the barrier between jazz and popular music. Cole had composed Straighten Up and Fly Right, basing its lyrics on one of his fathers sermons, but he had sold away all rights to the song several years earlier for $50 and earned nothing extra from the hit recording.

Moved Away from Jazz

The success of the King Cole Trio continued with the hits Get Your Kicks on Route 66, and For Sentimental Reasons. The trio also performed in movies including The Stork Club, Breakfast in Hollywood, and See My Lawyer. In 1946 they were hired, along with pianist Eddy Duchin, as summer replacements for Bing Crosby on the radio program Kraft Music Hall. You have no idea how much satisfaction I got from the acceptance of the trio, because we opened the way for countless other small groups, units that before were strictly for cocktail lounges, Cole told Down Beat in 1957. Coles career took a major step away from jazz when the trio recorded Mel Tormes The Christmas Song. A hit in the winter of 1946-1947, The Christmas Song was the trios first recording with a string section accompaniment and was the first recording to emphasize Cole as a singer rather than a singing pianist leading a trio.

Coles move towards being a singer of popular music was viewed by many jazz purists as an artistic sellout. This shift to the mainstream has been attributed to the influence of Maria Ellington, an intelligent and sophisticated young singer whom Cole met in 1946. Maria saw that Nat had a limited future as a jazz pianist. He couldnt just sit there and sing and become a big hit. He had to stand up and sing with strings, said Duke Niles, a songplugger who knew Cole, to biographer Leslie Course.

Many people around Cole, including fellow trio members Moore and Miller, thought the well-educated Ellington was calculating, domineering, and snobbish. Others say that Cole enjoyed many kinds of music (he was also an excellent classical pianist) and felt hindered by the confines of jazz. He very much wanted to be a big mainstream star and Ellingtons guidance merely assisted him in achieving that goal. After obtaining a divorce from Nadine Robinson, Cole married Ellington at a lavish ceremony conducted by Reverend Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. at Harlems Abyssinian Baptist Church in 1948. Cole and Ellington had three daughters and adopted a son and another daughter.

Became Showcased Singer

Having added string accompaniment to his recording of The Christmas Song, Cole took another step away from jazz with Nature Boy, which he sang with the backing of a full orchestra. The exotic-sounding ballad was a major hit of 1948. In 1950, another somewhat offbeat ballad, Mona Lisa, soared to the top of the charts and stayed there for weeks. Gradually Cole began singing stand up rather than sitting in front of a piano. The King Cole Trio devolved into window dressing for Coles solo performances and was finally disbanded in 1955. Success continued with Unforgettable, Too Young, Answer Me, My Love, and Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup. Coles mellow delivery was in opposition to the belting offered by other popular singers of the early 1950s such as Eddie Fisher, Johnny Ray, and the young Tony Bennett. His careful enunciation of a lyric enabled him to convey a song with depth and meaning and made his rather limited vocal range seem irrelevant. Mine is a casual approach to a song; I lean heavily on the lyrics. By that I mean I try to tell a story with the melody as background, Cole told Down Beat in 1954.

Not Immune to Racial Prejudice

In 1956, Cole was given his own television show on NBC-TV. Despite good ratings, the program failed to find a sponsor and left the air after a year. Coles being African American was seen as the primary cause for the lack of advertising interest. Sponsoring a program that drew a large, if by no means exclusively, black audience was seen as a waste of money by advertisers. Racial incidents cropped up from time to time during Coles starring career. When he and his wife bought a house in the exclusive Hancock Park section of Los Angeles in 1949, neighbors formed an association to prevent them from moving in. In 1956, at the height of his fame, Cole was attacked by a group of white men while performing in Birmingham, Alabama. Cole was sometimes criticized by other blacks for not taking a more aggressive stand against unfair treatment of racial minorities. He did not refuse to perform before segregated audiences, believing that goodwill and an exhibition of his talent were more effective than formal protests in combating racism.

The advent of rock and roll, the revitalized career of Frank Sinatra (to whom Cole was often compared), and competition from younger black crooners such as Johnny Mathis and Harry Belafonte, caused Coles popularity to fade slightly in the later 1950s. To boost his sagging career, Cole acted in a several films, and organized a touring concert show called Sights and Sounds, in which he appeared with a group of young singers and dancers called the Merry Young Souls. In the early 1960s, he returned to the top ten with the hits Ramblin Rose, and Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer. Some critics remarked that these vacuous, though catchy, songs were not up to the quality of his earlier hits.

Throughout his adult life, Cole was a heavy smoker who was rarely seen without a cigarette in his hand. After an operation for stomach ulcers in 1953, he was advised to stop smoking but did not do so. Keeping up with a hectic schedule of recording and live appearances, he ignored signs of ill health. In late 1964 he was diagnosed with an advanced case of lung cancer. After unsuccessful medical treatments, he died on February 15, 1965, at St. Johns Hospital in Santa Monica, California.

Coles recordings, both his jazz material and his mainstream work, have been discovered by new generations of fans. In 1991, Cole made a strong resurgence when his daughter Natalie blended her voice with his on a chart-topping new rendition of Unforgettable. Also in 1991, the Complete Capitol Recordings of the Nat King Cole Trio were released to the delight of jazz fans. Listening to the trios complete recordings brought new insight into Coles career. Jay Cocks of Time wrote of Cole, He wasnt corrupted by the mainstream. He used jazz to enrich and renew it, and left behind a lasting legacy. Very like a king.

Selected discography

King Cole Trio, vol.1, 1944.

King Cole Trio, vol. 2, 1946.

King Cole Trio, vol. 3, 1948.

King Cole for Kids, 1948.

King Cole Trio, vol. 4., 1949.

Harvest of Hits, 1950.

Nat King Cole at the Piano, 1950.

Penthouse Serenade, 1952.

Coles Top Pops, 1952.

Nat King Cole Sings for Two in Love, 1953.

Nat King Cole 10th Anniversary Album, 1955.

Vocal Classics, 1955.

Instrumental Classics, 1955.

Ballads of the Day, 1956.

Piano Style of Nat King Cole, 1956.

After Midnight, 1957.

Love is the Thing, 1957.

This is Nat King Cole, 1957.

Just One of Those Things, 1958.

St. Louis Blues, 1958.

Cole Espanol, 1958.

The Very Thought of You, 1958.

Welcome to the Club, 1959.

To Whom It May Concern, 1959.

A Mis Amigos, 1959.

Everytime I Feel the Spirit, 1959.

Tell Me All About Yourself, 1960.

Wild Is Love, 1960.

Magic of Christmas, 1960.

Touch of Your Lips, 1960.

Nat Cole Story, 1961.

Cole Sings, Shearing Plays, 1962.

Swingin Side of Cole, 1962.

More Cole Espagnol, 1962.

RamblinRose, 1962.

Dear Lonely Hearts, 1962.

Where Did Everyone Go?, 1963.

Top Pops, 1963.

Those Lazy, Hazy Crazy Days, 1963.

Lets Face the Music, 1964.

I Dont Want to Hurt Anymore, 1964.

My Fair Lady, 1964.

L-O-V-E, 1965.

Cole Sings His Songs from Cat Ballou, 1965.

The Nat King Cole Story, Vols. 1-3. 1980.

The Complete Recordings of the Nat King Cole Trio, 1991.



Haskins, James, with Kathleen Benson. Nat King Cole. New York: Stein and Day, 1984.

Gourse, Leslie. Unforgettable: The Life and Mystique of Nat King Cole. New York: St. Martins Press, 1991.


American Scholar, Summer 1992, pp. 437-443.

Atlantic, July 1992, pp. 84-86.

Contemporary Musicians, vol.3, 1990, pp. 41-43.

Down Beat, January 27, 1954, p. 2; May 2, 1957, p. 13; May 16, 1957, p. 15.

The Nation, March 5, 1990, pp. 323-324.

New York Times, February 16, 1965, pp. 1, 35; December 22, 1992, sect. 2, pp.26-28.

Saturday Evening Post, July 17, 1954, pp. 30, 104-106.

Time, December 16, 1991, p. 78.

Washington Post, February 17, 1992, p. D2.

Mary Kalfatovic

Cole, Nat King

views updated May 14 2018

Cole, Nat King [ Coles, Nathaniel Adams] (b Montgomery, Alabama, 1917; d Santa Monica, Calif., 1965). Amer. singer and jazz pianist. Had his own band in Chicago. Formed King Cole Trio 1939–51. After a best-selling record of 1947 he concentrated on singing (to the detriment of his jazz reputation). Among his most popular recordings were ‘Nature Boy’ and ‘Answer me’. Played part of W. C. Handy in film St Louis Blues (1958).

Cole, Nat King

views updated Jun 08 2018

Cole, Nat King ( Nathaniel Adams) (1917–65) US singer and pianist. He was a jazz pianist in the King Cole Trio from 1939, but achieved popularity as a singer with his velvety soft and rich voice. Cole's many hit songs include “Unforgettable”, “Mona Lisa” and “Nature Boy”.