b. William Basie, 21st August 1904 in Red Bank, New Jersey, U.S.A.
d. 26th April 1984, Hollywood, Florida, U.S.A.
Count Basie was born in New Jersey.
Both of his parents were musicians.
His father, Harvie Basie, played the mellophone, and his mother, Lillian (Childs) Basie, was a pianist who him his earliest lessons.
Basie also learned from Harlem stride pianists, particularly Fats Waller.
His first professional work came accompanying vaudeville performers, and he was part of a troupe that broke up in Kansas City in 1927.
He stayed in the Midwestern city, at first working in a silent movie house and then joining Walter Page's Blue Devils in July 1928.
The band's vocalist was Jimmy Rushing.
Basie left in early 1929 to play with other bands, eventually settling into one led by Bennie Moten.
Upon Moten's untimely death on 2nd April, 1935, Basie worked as a soloist before leading a band initially called the Barons of Rhythm.
Many former members of the Moten band joined this nine-piece outfit, among them Walter Page (bass), Freddie Green (guitar), Jo Jones (drums), and Lester Young (tenor saxophone). Jimmy Rushing became the singer.
The band gained a residency at the Reno Club in Kansas City and began broadcasting on the radio, an announcer dubbing the pianist 'Count' Basie.
Basie got his big break when one of his broadcasts was heard by journalist and record producer John Hammond, who touted him to agents and record companies.
As a result, the band was able to leave Kansas City in the fall of 1936 and take up an engagement at the Grand Terrace in Chicago, followed by a date in Buffalo, New York, before coming into Roseland in New York City in December.
It made its recording debut on Decca Records in January 1937.
Undergoing expansion and personnel changes, it returned to Chicago, then to the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Boston.
Meanwhile, its recording of 'One O'Clock Jump' became its first chart entry in September 1937.
The tune became the band's theme song, and it was later inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Basie returned to New York for an extended engagement at the small club the Famous Door in 1938 that really established the band as a success.
'Stop Beatin' Round the Mulberry Bush,' with Rushing on vocals, became a Top Ten hit in the fall of 1938.
Basie spent the first half of 1939 in Chicago, meanwhile switching from Decca to Columbia Records, then went to the West Coast in the fall.
He spent the early 1940's touring extensively, but after the U.S. entry into World War II in December 1941 and the onset of the recording ban in August 1942.
His travel was restricted.
While on the West Coast, he and the band appeared in five films, all released within a matter of months in 1943: 'Hit Parade of 1943', 'Reveille with Beverly', 'Stage Door Canteen', 'Top Man', and 'Crazy House'.
He also scored a series of Top Ten hits on the pop and R & B charts, including 'I Didn't Know About You' (pop, winter 1945); 'Red Bank Blues' (R & B, winter 1945); 'Rusty Dusty Blues' (R & B, spring 1945); 'Jimmy's Blues' (pop and R & B, summer / fall 1945) and 'Blue Skies' (pop, summer 1946).
Switching to RCA Victor Records, he topped the charts in February 1947 with 'Open the Door, Richard!,' followed by three more Top Ten pop hits in 1947: 'Free Eats,' 'One O'Clock Boogie,' and 'I Ain't Mad at You (You Ain't Mad at Me).'
The big bands' decline in popularity in the late 1940's hit Basie as it did his peers, and he broke up his orchestra at the end of the decade, opting to lead smaller units for the next couple of years.
However, he was able to reform the big band in 1952, responding to increased opportunities for touring.
For example, he went overseas for the first time to play in Scandinavia in 1954, and thereafter international touring played a large part in his schedule.
An important addition to the band in late 1954 was vocalist Joe Williams.
The orchestra was re-established commercially by the 1955 album Count Basie 'Swings - Joe Williams Sings' (released on Clef Records), particularly by the single 'Every Day (I Have the Blues),' which reached the top five of the R & B charts and was later inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Another key recording of this period was an instrumental reading of 'April in Paris' that made the pop Top 40 and the R & B Top Ten in early 1955.
Williams remained with Basie until 1960, and even after his departure the band continued to prosper.
At the first Grammy Awards ceremony, Basie won the 1958 awards for Best Performance by a Dance Band and Best Jazz Performance, Group, for his Roulette Records LP 'Basie'.
'Breakfast Dance' and 'Barbecue' was nominated in the dance band category for 1959, and Basie won in the category in 1960 for 'Dance with Basie', earning nominations the same year for Best Performance by an Orchestra and Best Jazz Performance, Large Group, for The Count Basie Story.
There were further nominations for best jazz performance for 'Basie at Birdland' in 1961 and 'The Legend' in 1962.
None of these albums attracted much commercial attention, however, and in 1962 Basie switched to Frank Sinatra's Reprise Records in a bid to sell more records.
Sinatra-Basie satisfied that desire, reaching the top five in early 1963.
It was followed by 'This Time by Basie!' Hits of the 50's and 60's, which reached the top 20 and won the 1963 Grammy Award for Best Performance by an Orchestra for Dancing.
This initiated a period largely deplored by jazz fans that ran through the rest of the 1960's, when Basie teamed with various vocalists for a series of chart albums including Ella Fitzgerald ('Ella and Basie!', 1963); Sinatra again (the top 20 album 'It Might as Well Be Swing', 1964); Sammy Davis, Jr. ('Our Shining Hour', 1965); the Mills Brothers ('The Board of Directors', 1968); and Jackie Wilson ('Manufacturers of Soul', 1968).
He also reached the charts with an album of show tunes, 'Broadway Basie's ... Way' (1966).
By the end of the 1960's, Basie had returned to more of a jazz format.
His album 'Standing Ovation' earned a 1969 Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental Jazz Performance by a Large Group or Soloist with Large Group (8 or More), and in 1970, with Oliver Nelson as arranger / conductor, he recorded 'Afrique', an experimental, avant-garde album that earned a 1971 Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Performance by a Big Band.
By this time, the band performed largely on the jazz festival circuit and on cruise ships.
In the early 1970's, after a series of short-term affiliations, Basie signed to Pablo Records, with which he recorded for the rest of his life.
Pablo recorded Basie prolifically in a variety of settings, resulting in a series of well-received albums.
'Basie Jam' earned a 1975 Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Performance by a Group.
'Basie and Zoot' was nominated in the same category in 1976 and won the Grammy for Best Jazz Performance by a Soloist.
'Prime Time' won the 1977 Grammy for Best Jazz Performance by a Big Band and 'The Gifted Ones' by Basie and Dizzy Gillespie was nominated for a 1979 Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance by a Group.
Thereafter, Basie competed in the category of Best Jazz Instrumental Performance by a Big Band, winning the Grammy in 1980 for 'On the Road' and in 1982 for 'Warm Breeze', earning a nomination for Farmer's Market Barbecue in 1983, and winning a final time, for his ninth career Grammy, in 1984 for '88 Basie Street'.
Basie's health gradually deteriorated during the last eight years of his life.
He suffered a heart attack in 1976 that put him out of commission for several months.
He was back in the hospital in 1981, and when he returned to action he was driving an electric wheel chair onto the stage.
He died of cancer at 79.
Basie's Basement (Bluebird 1929)
Jive at Five (ASV / Living Era 1932)
Super Chief (Columbia 1936)
Good Morning Blues (MCA 1937)
On the Upbeat (Drive Archives 1937)
Rock-A-Bye Basie, Vol. 2 (Vintage Jazz 1938)
Count Basie and His Great Vocalists (Legacy / Columbia 1939)
Blues by Basie (Columbia 1939)
Count Basie: The Orchestra and the Octet (1946)
Count Basie, Vols. 1-3 (RCA 1947)
Dance Parade (Columbia 1950)
Count Basie at the Piano (Decca 1950)
Paradise Squat (Verve 1952)
Count Basie / Lester Young - Live at Birdland (Jazz Panorama 1952)
Dance Session (Clef 1952)
Count Basie and His Orchestra Collates (Mercury 1952)
King of Swing (Verve 1953)
Sixteen Men Swinging (Verve 1953)
Swinging the Fifties (IAJRC 1954)
Class of '54 (Black Lion 1954)
Basie ([Clef] Clef 1954)
Blues Backstage (Clef 1954)
The Count Basie Sextet (Clef 1954)
Count Basie Big Band (Clef 1954)
Count Basie Dance Session, Vol. 1 (Clef 1954)
Basie Jazz (Clef 1954)
Jazz Royalty (EmArcy 1955)
The Old Count and the New Count (Epic 1955)
Count Basie Swings, Joe Williams Sings (Verve 1955)
April in Paris ([Verve] Verve 1955)
Lester Leaps In (Epic 1955)
Basie [Roulette] (Roulette 1955)
Basie's Back in Town (Epic 1955)
Let's Go to Prez (Epic 1955)
Rock the Blues (Epic 1955)
Count Basie Dance Session, Vol. 2 (Clef 1955)
Sings Standards (Verve 1956)
Count Basie in London (Verve 1956)
Live in Basel (1956) (Jazz Helvet 1956)
Live (Sequel 1956)
The Count ([Clef] Clef 1956)
The Swinging Count (Clef 1956)
The Band of Distinction (Clef 1956)
Basie Roars Again! (Clef 1956)
Basie Rides Again! (Clef 1956)
Basie Bash (Columbia 1956)
Switzerland 1956 (Jazz Helvet 1956)
At Newport with Dizzy Gillespie (Verve 1957)
Count Basie at Newport (Verve 1957)
Atomic Mr. Basie (Roulette 1957)
The Count! (Verve 1957)
Basie Plays Hefti (Roulette 1958)
Sing Along with Basie (Roulette 1958)
Count on the Coast, Vols. 1-3 (Phontastic 1958)
Memories Ad-Lib (Roulette 1958)
Basie Swings, Bennett Sings (Roulette 1958)
One More Time (Roulette 1958)
The Atomic Band in Concert [live] (Bandstand 1958)
Chairman of the Board (Roulette 1959)
Basie and Eckstine, Inc. (Capitol 1959)
Breakfast Dance and Barbecue (Roulette 1959)
Everyday I Have the Blues (Roulette 1959)
Hall of Fame (Verve 1959)
Dance Along with Basie (Roulette 1959)
Strike up the Band (Roulette 1959)
Paris Jazz Concert [live] (RTE 1960)
Count Basie/Sarah Vaughan (Roulette 1960)
String Along with Basie (Roulette 1960)
Not Now - I'll Tell You When (Roulette 1960)
Count Basie & Sarah Vaughan (Roulette 1960)
Just the Blues (Roulette 1960)
Kansas City Suite: The Music of Benny Carter (Roulette 1960)
Easin' It (Roulette 1960)
Kansas City Suite (Roulette 1960)
Benny Carter's Kansas City Suite (Roulette 1960)
Count Basie/Sarah Vaughan ([Roulette] Roulette 1961)
First Time! The Count Meets the Duke (Columbia 1961)
Basie at Birdland (Capitol 1961)
Count Basie and the Kansas City 7 ([MCA] MCA 1962)
Lil' Ol' Groovemaker (Verve 1962)
Back with Basie (Roulette 1962)
Live in Sweden (Roulette 1962)
On My Way and Shoutin' Again (Verve 1962)
Count Basie in Sweden (Roulette 1962)
Basie: Vaughan (Roulette 1962)
Live in Concert (Monad 1962)
Frankly Basie: Count Basie Plays the Hits of... (Verve 1963)
Basie Land (Verve 1963)
Pop Goes the Basie (Reprise 1964)
The World of Count Basie (Roulette 1964)
Count Basie ([Brunswick/RCA] Brunswick 1965)
Basie Picks the Winners (Verve 1965)
Basie's Beat (Verve 1965)
Basie Meets Bond (United Artists 1965)
Our Shining Hour (Verve 1965)
Sinatra At the Sands [live] (Reprise 1966)
Count Basie with Arthur Prysock (Verve 1966)
Basie's Swingin', Voices Singin' (ABC [Import] 1966)
Inside Basie Outside (VSP 1966)
Great Concert of Count Basie and His... [live] (Festival 1966)
Showtime (MCA 1966)
Basie's Beatle Bag (Verve 1966)
Straight Ahead (Dot 1967)
Hollywood...Basie's Way (Command 1967)
Live in Antibes (1968) (Esoldun 1968)
Jazz Fest Masters: Count Basie (Scotti Bros. 1969)
Basic Basie (Verve 1969)
Standing Ovation [live] (MCA 1969)
High Voltage (Pausa 1970)
Basie on the Beatles (Happy Tiger 1970)
Afrique (Flying 1970)
Have a Nice Day (Daybreak 1971)
Loose Walk (Pablo 1972)
Basie Jam, Vol. 1 (Pablo 1973)
The Bosses (Pablo 1973)
For the First Time (Pablo 1974)
Satch and Josh (Pablo 1974)
Basie and Friends (Pablo 1974)
The Last Decade (Artistry 1974)
Basie and Zoot (Pablo / OJC 1975)
Fun Time: Count Basie Big Band at Montreux... (Pablo 1975)
Basie Jam at Montreux '75 (Pablo 1975)
Jam Session at Montreux, 1975 (Pablo 1975)
The Basie Big Band (Pablo 1975)
For the Second Time (Original Jazz 1975)
Count Basie Jam Session at the Montreux Jazz... [live] (Original Jazz 1975)
I Told You So (Pablo / OJC 1976)
Basie Jam, Vol. 2 (Original Jazz 1976)
Basie Jam, Vol. 3 (Original Jazz 1976)
Prime Time (Pablo 1977)
Kansas City, Vol. 5 (Pablo 1977)
The Gifted Ones (Pablo 1977)
Basie Jam: Montreux '77 (Pablo/OJC 1977)
Montreux '77: Art of the Jam Session (Original Jazz 1977)
Satch and Josh.....Again (Pablo 1977)
Basie in Europe (LRC 1977)
Milt Jackson & Count Basie & The Big Band,... (Pablo 1978)
Yessir, That's My Baby (Pablo 1978)
Night Rider (Original Jazz 1978)
The Timekeepers (Pablo 1978)
Live in Japan (1978) (Pablo 1978)
Big Bands, An Old Manuscript (BH 1978)
Rock-A-Bye Basie: Live in '38 & '39 (BH 1978)
On Tour Down for Double (BH 1978)
Count Basie Meets Oscar Peterson (Pablo 1978)
Milt Jackson & Count Basie & The Big Band,... (Pablo 1979)
On the Road (Pablo / OJC 1979)
Get Together (Pablo 1979)
Kansas City Shout (Pablo 1980)
Kansas City, Vol. 7 (Original Jazz 1980)
Warm Breeze (Pablo 1981)
Kansas City, Vol. 6 (Original Jazz 1981)
Farmers Market Barbecue (Original Jazz 1982)
Me and You (Pablo 1983)
88 Basie Street (Original Jazz 1983)
Mostly Blues...and Some Others (Pablo 1983)
Fancy Pants (Pablo 1983)
Long Live the Chief (Denon 1986)
Autumn in Paris (Magic 1988)
Kansas City (Pablo 1991)
Blues for Basie (A & M 1991)
Live at El Morocco (Telarc 1992)
Atomic (Vogue 1992)
Basie's Bag (Telarc 1992)
Corner Pocket (Laserlight 1992)
One O'Clock Jump ([MCA / Columbia] MCA 1992)
Swingin' the Blues (Arco 1993)
One O'Clock Jump ([Four Star] Four Star 1994)
Live at Tilburg 1971 & Nassau 1969 (Jazz Band 1994)
Count Basie, Vol. 2 (Alshire 1994)
Midnite Blue (Jazz World 1994)
Low Life (Drive 1994)
Basie Jam (Analogue 1995)
August 5 1958 [live] (Canby 1995)
Basie Swing (Jazz World 1995)
With Duke Ellington (Tristar 1995)
Basie Boogie ([Jazz Hour] Jazz Hour 1995)
Basie Boogie ([Prime Cuts] Tristar 1995)
Basie Rhythm (Hep 1995)
All Stars '54 (Moon 1995)
The Atomic Band Live in Europe (Bandstand 1995)
Big Band Basie (Reference 1995)
Live in France (RTE 1995)
It Had to Be You (Dove 1996)
Swingin' Machine: Live (Le Jazz 1996)
Live at Manchester Craftsmen's Guild (Blue Jackel 1996)
Pop Classics (Brunswick 1996)
One O'Clock Jump ([K-Tel] K-Tel 1996)
Unbeatable Basie Beat (Avid 1996)
Jazz Hour with Count Basie, Vol. 2: Jumpin'... (Jazz Hour 1996)
Makin' Whoopee ([Collector's Edition] Collector's 1996)
Count Basie/Sarah Vaughan ([Capitol] Capitol 1996)
Count Basie Live! 1938 at the Famous Door NYC (Jazz Hour 1997)
At the Royal Roost NY 1948 [live] (Drive Archive 1997)
1938 at the Famous Door NYC [live] (Jazz Hour 1997)
Count Basie Encounters Oscar Peterson (Pablo / OJC 1998)
Live at the Sands (Warner 1998)
Paris Jazz Concert 1972 [live] (Malaco 1998)
Swing Shift (Mama 1999)
Cafe Society Uptown 1941 (Storyville 2000)
Live in Stockholm (Magic 2000)
Count on the Coast, Vol. 3 (Phontastic 2000)
Count Basie Live (Delta 2000)
At Birdland Summer 1952 [live] (Jazz Band 2000)