Born as Nathaniel Adams Coles on March 17, 1919. He was the 4th child of Rev. Edward James Coles and Perlina Adams.
February 15, 1965 due to lung cancer.
His mother was his first piano teacher; he would later take up formal piano lessons with another tutor. In 1934 while still in high school, Cole led his own 12-member band. Cole's older brother, Eddie, was a bass player who had toured with Noble Sissle's band. Eddie and Nat formed their own sextet - the Eddie Cole's Swingsters and in 1936 recorded 2 singles under Decca. That same year, Cole went on tour as pianist for the musical revue Shuffle Along.
Rise to Fame:
In 1937, Cole married Nadine Robinson, a dancer in the same musical. When Shuffle Along closed in Los Angeles, the newlyweds decided to stay there while Cole looked for employment (they would later divorce in 1948). It was also during this time when he decided to omit the "s" in his surname (Coles to Cole). With the suggestion of the Swanee Inn's manager, Cole, together with bassist Wesley Prince and guitarist Oscar Moore, formed The King Cole Trio. The group began attracting attention and was soon being invited to perform on venues across the country and on radio shows.
1940 Hits:1940: "Sweet Lorraine" (Decca)1941: "That Ain't Right" (Decca)1942: "All for You" (Excelsior) that same year, the song was bought by Capitol Records and the trio signed a contract with the said label.1943: "Straighten Up and Fly Right" & "Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You" (Capitol)1944: "The King Cole Trio" (debut album under Capitol)1946: "The King Cole Trio Vol. 2" (includes "The Christmas Song," "(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons" and "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66")1948: "The King Cole Trio Vol. 3" (includes the song "Nature Boy")1949: "The King Cole Trio Vol. 4"
1950 Hits:1950: "Mona Lisa" (became a #1 pop hit, that same year he embarked on his first international tour to Europe)1951: Nat King Cole became a solo performer. Also recorded the songs "Too Young" and "Unforgettable."1952: "Penthouse Serenade" (album)1953: "Nat King Cole Sings for Two in Love" (album)1954: "Answer Me, My Love"1955: "A Blossom Fell" and "If I May"1957: "Love Is the Thing" (album)1958: "Looking Back"
1960 Hits:1960: "Wild is Love" (album)1962; "Ramblin' Rose" (both the album and the song were successful)1963: "Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer" (his last hit)
"The Ed Sullivan Show" (1950), "The Nat King Cole Story" (1955/Universal) and "The Nat King Cole Show" (1956 to 1957/NBC).
Film/Stage: "China Gate," "St. Louis Blues," "Nights and Sounds" and "Cat Ballou."
Posthumous Awards: NARAS Hall of Fame Award for "A Christmas Song" (1974), Lifetime Achievement Award (1990) and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2000).
"Unforgettable" the song Nat King Cole made famous in 1952, was recorded as a duet by his daughter Natalie Cole in 1991. The said arrangement won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year and became a gold record.
Listen to this recording of Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable
" from Youtube.
For more on Nat King Cole, visit his official website.