• Marv Johnson

    1938 - 1993

    Marv Johnson (1938 - 1993)

    Marv Johnson was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1938. He began his career singing with a doo-wop group, the Serenaders, in the mid-1950s. With budding talents not only as a singer but also as a songwriter and pianist, he was discovered by Berry Gordy while Johnson performed at a carnival. Gordy had already decided to form […]

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  • Jimmy Ruffin

    1936 - 2014

    Jimmy Ruffin (1936 - 2014)

    In 1966, Jimmy Ruffin heard a song about unrequited love written for The Spinners, and persuaded the writers that he should record it himself. His recording of “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” became a major success. The song reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #6 on the R&B Chart. It also initially reached […]

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  • Billy Davis

    1932 - 2004

    Billy Davis (1932 - 2004)

    Roquel “Billy” Davis (July 11, 1932 – September 2, 2004), of Detroit, was an American songwriter, record producer, and singer. Davis was also known as a writer/producer of commercial jingles, mostly for Coca-Cola. He was also known as Tyran Carlo on writing credits. Early in his career in Detroit, Billy Davis sang and wrote with an […]

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  • Gwen Gordy

    1927 - 1999

    Gwen Gordy (1927 - 1999)

    Gwen Gordy was born to Berry Gordy Sr. (or Berry Gordy II) and Bertha Ida (née Fuller) Gordy in Detroit. She was the youngest of the four Gordy sisters (Esther, Anna and Loucye) and the third youngest of the entire family(brothers Berry and Robert were born after her). Following graduation from high school, Gwen owned the […]

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  • Wilton Felder

    1940 - 2015

    Wilton Felder (1940 - 2015)

    Wilton Lewis Felder (August 31, 1940 – September 27, 2015) was an American saxophone and bass player, and is best known as a founding member of The Jazz Crusaders, later known as The Crusaders. Wilton Felder was born in Houston, Texas and studied music at Texas Southern University. Felder, Wayne Henderson, Joe Sample, and Stix Hooper […]

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  • Johnny Bristol

    1939 - 2004

    Johnny Bristol (1939 - 2004)

    Johnny Bristol first came to local attention in the Detroit area as a member of the soul duo ‘Johnny & Jackey’ with Jackey Beavers, an associate Bristol met while in the US Air Force. The pair recorded two singles in 1959 for Anna Records, a label owned by Gwen Gordy (Berry Gordy’s sister) and Billy […]

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  • Marshall Thompson

    1925 - 1992

    Marshall Thompson (1925 - 1992)

    Marshall Thompson was born James Marshall Thompson in Peoria, Illinois. He and his parents, Dr. and Mrs. Laurence B. Thompson, moved to California when he was one year old. Thompson enrolled at Occidental College with plans to become a dentist. He attended University High School where he was a classmate of Norma Jean Baker, later […]

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  • Sylvia Moy

    1938 - 2017

    Sylvia Moy (1938 - 2017)

    Born and brought up on the northeast side of Detroit, Sylvia Moy studied and performed jazz and classical music at Northern High School, before she was seen performing in a club in 1963 by Marvin Gaye and Mickey Stevenson. She was given recording and songwriting contracts by Motown, but was urged to prioritize her songwriting […]

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  • Hari Rhodes

    1932 - 1992

    Hari Rhodes (1932 - 1992)

    In 1960, Hari Rhodes appeared in five television series: General Electric Theater, hosted by Ronald W. Reagan; The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor, Have Gun, Will Travel, starring Richard Boone, The Westerner, starring Brian Keith, and in two episodes of Adventures in Paradise, starring Gardner McKay. In 1961, he was cast in an episode of ABC’s […]

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  • Yale Summers

    1933 - 2012

    Yale Summers (1933 - 2012)

    Born in Manhattan, Yale Summers made his acting debut in the 1961 film, Mad Dog Coll, playing a small unbilled role. The remainder of his career was almost entirely occupied with television. He appeared in a recurring role on the ABC soap opera, General Hospital, as Dr. Bob Ayres during the 1964-1965 television season. His […]

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  • Ferenc Fricsay

    1914 - 1963

    Ferenc Fricsay (1914 - 1963)

    Ferenc Fricsay was born in Budapest in 1914 and studied music under Béla Bartók, Zoltán Kodály, Ernst von Dohnányi, and Leo Weiner. With these and other faculty at the Budapest Academy of Music he studied piano, violin, clarinet, trombone, percussion, composition and conducting. Ferenc Fricsay made his first appearance as a conductor at age 15, […]

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  • Helmut Zacharias

    1920 - 2002

    Helmut Zacharias (1920 - 2002)

    Helmut Zacharias was born in Berlin. His father Karl was a violinist and conductor, and his mother was a singer. He started having lessons from his father at the age of 2 and a half and at 6 he played at the Faun club, a cabaret venue on the Friedrichstraße in Berlin. At the age […]

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  • Mantovani

    1905 - 1980

    Mantovani (1905 - 1980)

    Mantovani was born in Venice, Italy, into a musical family. His father, Bismarck, served as the concertmaster of La Scala opera house’s orchestra in Milan, under the baton of Arturo Toscanini. The family moved to England in 1912, where young Annunzio studied at Trinity College of Music in London. After graduation, he formed his own […]

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  • Billy Eckstine

    1914 - 1993

    Billy Eckstine (1914 - 1993)

    Billy Eckstine’s paternal grandparents were William F. Eckstein and Nannie Eckstein, a mixed-race, married couple who lived in Washington, D.C.; both were born in 1863. William F. was born in Prussia and Nannie in Virginia. His parents were William Eckstein, a chauffeur, and Charlotte Eckstein, a seamstress of note. Eckstine was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; […]

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  • Wes Montgomery

    1923 - 1968

    Wes Montgomery (1923 - 1968)

    Wes Montgomery was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. According to NPR Jazz Profiles “The Life and Music Of Wes Montgomery”, the nickname “Wes” was a child’s abbreviation of his middle name, Leslie. He came from a musical family; his brothers, Monk (double bass and electric bass) and Buddy (vibraphone and piano), were jazz performers. The brothers […]

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  • Erroll Garner

    1923 - 1977

    Erroll Garner (1923 - 1977)

    Erroll Garner (June 15, 1923 – January 2, 1977; some sources say 1921) was an American jazz pianist and composer known for his swing playing and ballads. His best-known composition, the ballad “Misty”, has become a jazz standard. Scott Yanow of Allmusic calls him “one of the most distinctive of all pianists” and a “brilliant […]

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  • Norrie Paramor

    1914 - 1979

    Norrie Paramor (1914 - 1979)

    Although the term “producer” was not in circulation at the time Paramor started producing records (the usual term being Artiste and Repertoire Manager, or A&R man), he effectively began this role in 1952 when he became Recording Director for EMI’s Columbia Records. As well as being producer for Cliff Richard and the Shadows, he produced […]

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  • Joe Williams

    1918 - 1999

    Joe Williams (1918 - 1999)

    Joe Williams worked as a singer and bouncer in Chicago in the late 1930s and early 1940s. He began singing professionally as a soloist in 1937. He sometimes sang with big bands: from 1937 he performed with Jimmie Noone’s Apex Club Orchestra, and also toured with Les Hite in the Midwest. In 1941 he toured […]

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  • Milt Jackson

    1923 - 1999

    Milt Jackson (1923 - 1999)

    Milt Jackson was born on January 1, 1923 in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Manley Jackson and Lillie Beaty Jackson. Like many, he was surrounded by music from an early age, particularly that of religious meetings: “Everyone wants to know where I got that funky style. Well, it came from church. The music I heard […]

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  • Zoot Sims

    1925 - 1985

    Zoot Sims (1925 - 1985)

    John Haley “Zoot” Sims (October 29, 1925 – March 23, 1985) was an American jazz saxophonist, playing mainly tenor but also alto and later soprano. He first gained attention in the “Four Brothers” sax section of Woody Herman’s big band, after which he went on to a long solo career, often in partnership with fellow […]

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  • George Shearing

    1919 - 2011

    George Shearing (1919 - 2011)

    In 1947, George Shearing emigrated to the United States, where his harmonically complex style mixing swing, bop and modern classical influences gained popularity. One of his first performances was at the Hickory House. He performed with the Oscar Pettiford Trio and led a jazz quartet with Buddy DeFranco, which led to contractual problems, since Shearing […]

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  • Robert Farnon

    1917 - 2005

    Robert Farnon (1917 - 2005)

    Born in Toronto, Robert Farnon was commissioned as a captain in the Canadian Army and became the conductor/arranger of the Canadian Band of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force sent overseas during World War II, which was the Canadian equivalent of the American Band of the SHAEF led by Major Glenn Miller. He was noted […]

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  • Morton Gould

    1913 - 1996

    Morton Gould (1913 - 1996)

    Morton Gould was born in Richmond Hill, New York. He was recognized early as a child prodigy with abilities in improvisation and composition. His first composition was published at age six. Gould studied at the Institute of Musical Art in New York, his most important teachers were Abby Whiteside and Vincent Jones. During the Depression, Gould, […]

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  • Ivor Slaney

    1921 - 1998

    Ivor Slaney (1921 - 1998)

    Ivor Ernst Slaney (born 27 May 1921 in West Bromwich, United Kingdom, d. 20 March 1998, Southampton, United Kingdom) was a prolific musical composer and conductor, notable for his work in film, television and radio. Ivor Slaney was educated at the Royal College of Music, and married Mary D Ludlow pianist Dolores Ventura in 1948. His […]

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  • Haydn Wood

    1882 - 1959

    Haydn Wood (1882 - 1959)

    Haydn Wood was born in the West Riding of Yorkshire town of Slaithwaite on 25 March 1882. When he was three years old his family moved to the Isle of Man, an island which was often a source of inspiration for the composer. In 1897, at the Royal College of Music, he studied violin with Enrique […]

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  • Angela Morley

    1924 - 2009

    Angela Morley (1924 - 2009)

    Angela Morley was originally a composer of light music, best known for pieces such as the jaunty “Rotten Row” and “A Canadian in Mayfair”, a homage to Robert Farnon’s “Portrait of a Flirt”. Morley is also remembered for writing the theme tune and incidental music for Hancock’s Half Hour, and was the musical director for […]

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  • George Melachrino

    1909 - 1965

    George Melachrino (1909 - 1965)

    George Melachrino (born George Miltiades; 1 May 1909 – 18 June 1965) was a musician, movie composer, and musical director who was English born of Greek and Italian descent. He was an accomplished player of the violin, viola, oboe, clarinet and saxophone. George Melachrino was born in London, England. As a young boy, he had a […]

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  • Sidney Torch

    1908 - 1990

    Sidney Torch (1908 - 1990)

    Sidney Torch MBE (5 June 1908 – 16 July 1990) was a British pianist, cinema organist, conductor, orchestral arranger and a composer of light music. Born Sidney Torchinsky of a Ukrainian father and an Estonian mother in London, Torch learned the rudiments of music very quickly from his father, an orchestral trombonist, who used to sit […]

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  • Ron Goodwin

    1925 - 2003

    Ron Goodwin (1925 - 2003)

    Ron Goodwin is primarily known for his film music and worked on more than 70 scores during his career. He composed his first feature film, Man with a Gun in 1958 and was quickly followed by The Witness and Whirlpool (fr) a year later. Early minor film success followed with several films until 1961 when […]

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  • Si Zentner

    1917 - 2000

    Si Zentner (1917 - 2000)

    Simon Hugh “Si” Zentner (June 13, 1917 in New York City – January 31, 2000 in Las Vegas, Nevada) was an American trombonist and jazz big-band leader. Si Zentner played violin from age four and picked up trombone a few years later. As a teenager, he was awarded the Guggenheim Foundation Philharmonic Scholarship. He attended college […]

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