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Billy Eckstine

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA (8 July 1914 – 8 March 1993)

Billy Eckstine (8 July 1914 – 8 March 1993), born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA as William Clarence Eckstein. He changed the spelling to Eckstine after a club owner said the original spelling was “too Jewish”.

Eckstine was an American singer and bandleader who also played trumpet, valve trombone, and guitar. He also performed briefly as Billy X. Stine. His nickname was Mr. B. Although best known as a singer, his openness to new music made him a strong influence on modern jazz, particularly bebop, as he gave employment to many of the musicians who founded the style.

After singing with the Earl Hines band from 1939 to 1943 he led his own band from 1944 to 1947. The band featured at various times a large number of rising jazz stars, including:

Saxophones: Gene Ammons, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Stitt, Lucky Thompson, Charlie Parker, Wardell Gray, Budd Johnson, Leo Parker
Trumpets: Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Kenny Dorham, Fats Navarro
Drums: Art Blakey
Singers: Lena Horne, Sarah Vaughan

Eckstine later formed an octet, then went solo, becoming a popular ballad singer while remaining an important figure in jazz. His huge, distinctive baritone made him one of the first African American singers to have mainstream success. He was the composer of the blues classic “Jelly, Jelly” and also recorded the R&B top hit “Stormy Monday Blues” in 1942 (not to be confused with T-Bone Walker’s 1947 “Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday Is Just As Bad)”).

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  • Slim_rafa

    Miles Davis used to play with him! >Gave a lot of great musicians their start. Extremely underrated artist.[2]

    2 Apr 4:33pm Reply
  • IamFlood

    I had no idea music this mellow existed.

    31 Dec 2012 Reply
  • MrStyle

    Mr. B was just as smooth as Frank Sinatra or Lou Rawls. He just had the singing chops! Gave a lot of great musicians their start. Extremely underrated artist.

    30 Aug 2010 Reply
  • Blottoo

    Billy filled a place in the market that was almost impossible to achieve. A great professional and entertainer. I am sure a lot of the pundants of singers were jealous of his natural ability as well as his trained professialism.

    22 Aug 2010 Reply
  • johntardsbaby66

    Dexter Gordon, Sonny Stitt, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Fats Navarro, Art Blakeley, and Sarah Vaughn? I wish I'd seen that band.

    16 Aug 2010 Reply
  • pone2none

    super cool !!!

    27 Jul 2010 Reply
  • twmia

    Yes great voice, wonderful phrasing and i think really underrated. As i think nearly unknown outside of US. I got a wonderful record from 1974 "If she walked into my life". So sad it can not be played here in lastfm. I want a recording tool for records for lastfm. :-)

    11 Oct 2009 Reply
  • amiracle87

    His voice is as heavenly as Sarah Vaughan's... Anyone else with me on that??

    28 Aug 2009 Reply
  • mrjavajive

    mr. b. isnt he he greatest

    12 May 2009 Reply
  • NIKSON0007

    love this

    5 May 2009 Reply
  • rebel_121

    strong wonderful voice... I like it

    20 Apr 2009 Reply
  • lukesequeira

    Awesome!

    18 Apr 2009 Reply
  • Jolagawlikowska

    He is singing soft and very romantic.

    13 Mar 2009 Reply
  • EngelClaire

    Ich habe eine neue Lieblingsstimme!

    9 Jan 2009 Reply
  • cariade

    husky voice great

    4 Jan 2009 Reply
  • Retro_Saiyan

    I like his voice, very romantic.

    9 Dec 2008 Reply

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