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Charlie Parker: The Man Who Lived Too Much

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Charlie Parker: The Man Who Lived Too Much

Posted on 30 August 2010 by Robert

Charles Parker Jr. was born August 29, 1920. He was involved with drugs & alcohol throughout his extremely short life (35 years). These vices would eventually become part of his untimely death on

March 12, 1955.  Nevertheless, Parker has forever changed jazz and left a wonderful legacy.

Parker’s passion for music was sparked while listening to his father, a vaudeville singer & dancer, play the piano on his sparse visits home. Once enrolled in high school, Parker took up the saxophone in the high school band. Parker played with local bands until 1935, when he made the decision to leave school and pursue his dream — a career in music. He is known as “Bird,” and there are several theories as to why. One theory is as follows:

Parker got the nickname “Yardbird” while traveling to a “gig” with the Jay McShann Orchestra. The car he was riding in accidentally ran over a chicken and Parker insisted on taking the dead “yardbird” and fixing it up for dinner at their destination, rather than having it go to waste. — The Jazzine

Charlie Parker is one of the most distinguished jazz musicians with well over fifty records published. His music has influenced countless artists since his first recording with Savoy Records in 1944. He is credited as being one of the inventors of bebop, recording “Shaw Nuff” with Dizzy Gillespie in 1945. “Shaw Nuff” is noted as being the first important bebop recording.┬áSeveral of Charlie Parker’s songs have become jazz standards, including “Confirmation,” “Anthropology” and “Billies Bounce.

Unfortunately, apart from having been an innovator, Parker is known for his drug addiction. After being involved in an automobile accident as a child, he developed an addiction to morphine. This developed into a heroine addiction in short order, which would eventually have a factor in his death. He would miss gigs, practices and other appointments which led to him being fired. Parker’s addiction was widely known and regrettably played a part in the connection between jazz music & drug use.

Examples of Parker’s Music:
“Hot House” -Bird & Diz are awarded Downbeat awards!


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