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A native of Montgomery, Alabama....

Nathaniel Adams Cole was the youngest son of a Baptist minister, who followed his three brothers in the music profession.

Able to play by ear, young Nat was an accomplished pianist by age 12, and had established his first jazz band while still in high school. He formed the King Cole Trio in 1939, performing as an instrumental trio until a persistent customer coaxed Cole to sing. Inspired by Earl Hines and a big influence on Oscar Peterson, by 1952 he had become known as the man with the velvet voice. With the recording, "Nature Boy", Cole moved to the forefront as a vocalist, and consistent hit after hit catapulted him to stardom.

However his career changed permanently in early 1950 with the recording of "Mona Lisa" which became a number one hit. Suddenly Nat King Cole became famous to the nonjazz public as a singer, and many new fans never realized that he also played piano! During the 1950s and '60s he mostly recorded pop ballads although there were a few exceptions (including 1956's After Midnight album) and he never lost his ability to play stimulating jazz. Cole had a regular television show during 1956-57 (some of which has been released on video) but due to the racism of the period he could never find a sponsor. However the popularity of his records and public appearances remained at a remarkable level.

He sold over 50 million records for Capitol Records causing the company's famed Hollywood office building to become known as the "Tower that Nat Built".

His unparalleled popularity launched him into movies and television, where he became the first Black man with a weekly network series and the star of "St. Louis Blues" where he portrayed one of his musical heros, W.C. Handy.

Cole died of lung cancer in Santa Monica, CA, February 15, 1965.

Nat, his wife Maria, and their children

Nat's daughter, the beautiful and talented Natalie Cole

Nat "King" Cole

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