Nat King Cole
Nat King Cole, whose real name was Nathaniel Adams Coles, was born in 1919 in Alabama and grew up in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, where his father was a Baptist minister and his mother, the church organist, taught him to play the keyboard. He showed an early talent for music, and as a teenager he sneaked out to hear some of the jazz greats of the day, like Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines. He began performing in the 1930s, calling himself Nat Cole. The “King” got added by friends later, perhaps a fleeting reference to the nursery rhyme “Old King Cole.” He first built a reputation as a jazz pianist, but it was his velvety voice that made him famous. He died of cancer in 1965. “Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer” was his last hit.