Erroll gardner



Keywords: erroll gardner
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Erroll Garner was one of the most popular jazz pianists and composers in the world from the 1950s through the 1970s.   During his forty year career he performed in concerts around the world as a soloist and leader of his own trio.   Garner was the first and only jazz artist presented by classical music impresario Sol Hurok.  As a top selling recording artist his 37 albums were released on the Mercury, RCA, ABC-Paramount, Columbia, MGM, Reprise, and the Octave labels.  His composition “Misty”, one of the most recorded jazz standards of all time, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1991.   Nine of his albums reached the top of the Billboard charts including “Concert By The Sea” (#12 1958), Other Voices (#16 1957), Dream Street (#35, 1961), and Gemini (#24 in Jazz 1973).   “Concert by the Sea" is one of the best-selling jazz recordings of all time.

Garner appeared frequently on television including the shows of Ed Sullivan, Jackie Gleason, Perry Como, Gary Moore, the Steve Allen, Merv Griffen, Mike Douglas, and many times on the Tonight Show. He was Johnny Carson's favorite jazz musician. His music is heard in the soundtracks of 31 movies and television shows including Clint Eastwood’s “Play Misty for Me”, Oceans 11, Cheers, Designing Women. and Naked Gun 33 1/3.   Garner is honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1993.  The  diminutive Garner, o nly 5' 2" in height, often sat on telephone books to reach the keys. But he was a giant in the history of piano jazz.

“Erroll Louis Garner was one of the greats of jazz piano history….Garner was an innovator equaled only by a handful of pianists such as Earl Hines, Fats Waller and Art Tatum”.  — Leonard Feather in the Los Angeles Times Jan. 3, 1977

"Erroll Garner was a giant among jazz pianists. His music is melodic, rhythmic, rhapsodic, and original. As a musician he was one of a kind "  -- Billy Taylor

Erroll Louis Garner was born on June 15, 1921 in Pittsburgh.   Living on 212 North St. Claire Street he grew up in a musical family of three sisters, his twin brother Ernst, and his older brother Linton.   Every member of his family played an instrument and most of them sang.   His father, a trumpeter, played in his own band in addition to working two full time jobs.   His parents were singers in their church choir and his brother Linton became a professional pianist.  Erroll began playing piano at age three.   He was a self-taught musician who played by ear.   He could hear a song once and play it back. With that skill he never learned to read music. His mother got him piano lessons but he never read the lesson books.   Garner also learned from his brother Linton and his neighborhood friends Dodo Marmarosa and Billy Strayhorn.

As a young child Erroll earned nickels and dimes playing piano for his neighbors.   He made his first performance on KDKA radio at age 7 and became of regular on KDKA at age 9 playing piano with the Kan-D-Kids group.   He started working professionally at age eleven playing at rent parties, at neighborhood clubs, and on the riverboats.   Learning that Erroll was a popular draw, Fate Marable hired him around 1931 to play with his band on the Streckfus Steamer’s riverboat dance cruises.   Erroll snuck out his house to work on the riverboat cruises that left from Wood Street in downtown Pittsburgh.

B eginning in 1935 Erroll attended Westinghouse High School, whose other famous musical alumni include pianists Billy Strayhorn, Patricia Prattis Jennings and Ahmad Jamal.   From teacher Carl McVicker he learned the tuba and played in the high school band at football games.   Garner   so often snuck out of his academic classes to watch Mr. McVicker work with his bands, that the school let him spend half of his school day in Mr. McVickers classes.






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