Famous 20th Century Jazz Musicians

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 1 
Sting
(Musician & Singer)
Sting
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Birthdate: October 2, 1951
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Wallsend, England

Sting is an English singer-songwriter, musician, and actor. Credited with co-founding the popular rock band, The Police, Sting played an important role in the band's success from 1977 to 1984 during which he served as the band's bassist, lead singer, and principal songwriter. Also known for his work as an activist, Sting has shown interest in political and social issues.

 2 
Billie Holiday
(One of the Greatest Jazz Singers from the 1930s to the 1950s)
Billie Holiday
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Birthdate: April 7, 1915
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: July 17, 1959
Jazz legend Billie Holiday had a tumultuous childhood and ended up in prison due to prostitution. Upon her release, at 14, she started singing using her pseudonym and performed at sold-out Carnegie Hall shows. Nicknamed Lady Day, she was riddled with alcohol and drug issues. She won four posthumous Grammys.
 3 
Miles Davis
(Trumpeter and one of the Most Prominent Figures in the History of Jazz)
Miles Davis
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Birthdate: May 26, 1926
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Alton, Illinois, United States
Died: September 28, 1991
Jazz trumpeter and composer Miles Davis was a pioneer in the bepop and jazz fusion genres. His work also had electronic, African, and Spanish influences. His album Kind of Blue sold 5 million copies in the U.S. and was termed a national treasure by the House of Representatives, years later. 
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 4 
Louis Armstrong
(American Writer & Professor of Biochemistry Best Known for His Hard Science Fiction Novels)
Louis Armstrong
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Birthdate: August 4, 1901
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Died: July 6, 1971

Louis Armstrong was an American trumpeter and singer who played an important role in the development of jazz. Thanks to his playing, trumpet became known as a solo instrument and jazz, which was previously known as a collectively improvised folk music, became a soloist's art form. Not surprisingly, Louis Armstrong is widely accepted as the embodiment of jazz. 

 5 
Nat King Cole
(Singer and Jazz Pianist Best Known His Soft Baritone Voice)
Nat King Cole
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Birthdate: March 17, 1919
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Montgomery, Alabama, United States
Died: February 15, 1965
Jazz pianist/singer Nat King Cole, father of singer Natalie Cole, is best remembered for tracks such as Too Young and Mona Lisa. His last album, L-O-V-E, was recorded while he battled lung cancer. With The Nat King Cole Show, he became the first African-American to host his own show.
 6 
Chaka Khan
(Singer)
Chaka Khan
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Birthdate: March 23, 1953
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois
Ten-time Grammy-winning funk/R&B/disco artist Chaka Khan, or the Queen of Funk, soared to fame as the frontwoman of the band Rufus. Known for her hit track I Feel for You, Khan has sold 70 million records and has ranked 17th on VH1’s 100 Greatest Women of Rock & Roll list.
 7 
John Coltrane
(One of the Most Influential Saxophonists in Music History)
John Coltrane
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Birthdate: September 23, 1926
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: HaHamlet, North Carolina, United States
Died: July 17, 1967
Jazz saxophonist John Coltrane is remembered for his significant influence on modern jazz. He was initially part of the Navy band and eventually collaborated with musicians such as Miles Davis. He won a Pulitzer Prize and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and was canonized by the African Orthodox Church.
 8 
Bobby Darin
(Pop vocalist who released the hits "Mack the Knife," "Dream Lover," and "Beyond the Sea.")
Bobby Darin
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Birthdate: May 14, 1936
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: East Harlem, New York, United States
Died: December 20, 1973
 9 
Jon Batiste
(Musician)
Jon Batiste
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Birthdate: November 11, 1986
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kenner, Louisiana, United States
 10 
Charlie Parker
(Jazz Saxophonist & Developer of the 'Bebop' Style of Jazz)
Charlie Parker
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Birthdate: August 29, 1920
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kansas City, Kansas, United States
Died: March 12, 1955

Charlie Parker was an American composer and jazz saxophonist. A highly influential soloist, Parker played a significant role in the development of a form of jazz called bebop. He is also credited with introducing harmonic ideas into jazz, such as chord substitutions and rapid passing chords. His contribution to jazz and bebop made him an icon of the hipster subculture.

 11 
Ginger Baker
(Former Drummer known for co-founder and occasional vocalist of the rock band Cream)
Ginger Baker
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Birthdate: August 19, 1939
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lewisham, South London, England
Died: October 6, 2019
 12 
Chet Baker
(Trumpeter and Vocalist Known for Major Innovations in 'Cool Jazz')
Chet Baker
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Birthdate: December 23, 1929
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Yale, Oklahoma, United States
Died: May 13, 1988

Chet Baker was an American vocalist and jazz trumpeter. He achieved recognition during the 1950s and his innovations within cool jazz, a style of modern jazz music, earned him the nickname prince of cool. However, his drug addiction overshadowed much of his professional achievements. His life and work inspired the 2015 drama film Born to Be Blue.

 13 
Don Shirley
(Classical and Jazz Pianist and Composer)
Don Shirley
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Birthdate: January 29, 1927
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pensacola, Florida, United States
Died: April 6, 2013

Don Shirley was an American jazz and classical pianist and composer. He is best remembered for his association with Cadence Records where he recorded many albums during the 1950s and 1960s. Apart from performing in numerous concert tours, Shirley also wrote organ symphonies and piano concerti. Shirley's friendship with his bodyguard Tony Lip was dramatized in the film Green Book.

 14 
Herbie Hancock
(Singer-songwriter, Bandleader, Conductor, Jazz musician, Keyboardist, Actor, Musician, Pianist, Film score composer)
Herbie Hancock
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Birthdate: April 12, 1940
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chicago
 15 
Herb Alpert
(Trumpeter and Co-Founder of the American Record Label 'A&M Records')
Herb Alpert
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Birthdate: March 31, 1935
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States
Herb Alpert is an American trumpeter who achieved popularity in the 1960s when he led the band Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. He is also credited with co-founding A&M Records. Also a well-known philanthropist, Alpert launched the Herb Alpert Foundation in the 1980s in an attempt to deal with environmental issues and support youth and arts education.
 16 
Thundercat
(Musician)
Thundercat
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Birthdate: October 19, 1984
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States
 17 
Charlie Watts
(Drummer)
Charlie Watts
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Birthdate: June 2, 1941
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kingsbury, London, England
Died: August 24, 2021

English drummer, Charlie Watts, was best known as a member of the band Rolling Stones. He was associated with the group for almost 60 years. He began his career as a graphic designer for an advertising company and played with bands in his leisure time. He eventually started drumming full time with Rolling Stones.

 18 
Mick Taylor
(Musician)
Mick Taylor
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Birthdate: January 17, 1949
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Welwyn Garden City, England

Mick Taylor soared to fame as the guitarist of iconic rock band The Rolling Stones. He has also been part of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. Named to the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame, he was also declared one of Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 greatest guitarists of all time.

 19 
Thelonious Monk
(Jazz Pianist & Composer)
Thelonious Monk
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Birthdate: October 10, 1917
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Rocky Mount, North Carolina, United States
Died: February 17, 1982

Thelonious Monk was an American jazz pianist and composer who was noted for his unorthodox approach and idiosyncrasy during his performance. Mentored by Mary Lou Williams, Thelonious Monk contributed to bebop and was associated with Columbia and Riverside labels. His run-in with the police affected his performance after his New York City Cabaret Card was confiscated following the discovery of narcotics in a car.

 20 
Buddy Rich
(Musician)
Buddy Rich
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Birthdate: September 30, 1917
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, USA
Died: April 2, 1987
 21 
Rita Coolidge
(Musician)
Rita Coolidge
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Birthdate: May 1, 1945
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Lafayette, Tennessee, United States
 22 
Django Reinhardt
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Birthdate: January 23, 1910
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Liberchies, Belgium
Died: May 16, 1953
Belgian-born Romani-French jazz musician Jean Reinhardt was better known by his nickname Django. Some of his most celebrated composition were Belleville and Swing '42. Though he died at 43, he influenced an entire generation of musicians, which led to annual Django Festivals, a film, and a biography.
 23 
Eva Cassidy
(Singer, Guitarist)
Eva Cassidy
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Birthdate: February 2, 1963
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Oxon Hill, Maryland, United States
Died: November 2, 1996
 24 
Jaco Pastorius
(Musician)
Jaco Pastorius
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Birthdate: December 1, 1951
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Norristown, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: September 21, 1987
 25 
Donald Fagen
(Singer-songwriter, Singer, Pianist)
Donald Fagen
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Birthdate: January 10, 1948
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Passaic, New Jersey, United States
 26 
Chick Corea
(Jazz musician, Composer)
Chick Corea
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Birthdate: June 12, 1941
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chelsea, Massachusetts, United States
Died: February 9, 2021
 27 
Ralph Tresvant
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Birthdate: May 16, 1968
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Roxbury
 28 
George Benson
(Guitarist, Singer, Songwriter, Jazz musician, Composer, Jazz guitarist)
George Benson
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Birthdate: March 22, 1943
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Pittsburgh
 29 
Walter Becker
(Guitarist, Record producer)
Walter Becker
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Birthdate: February 20, 1950
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Queens, New York, United States
 30 
Scatman John
(Musician, Singer)
Scatman John
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Birthdate: March 13, 1942
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Monte, California, United States
Died: December 3, 1999
 31 
Dizzy Gillespie
(One of the Greatest Jazz Trumpeters of All Time)
Dizzy Gillespie
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Birthdate: October 21, 1917
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cheraw, South Carolina, United States
Died: January 6, 1993

Jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and singer Dizzy Gillespie developed the virtuoso style of Roy Eldridge, modifying it with innovative harmony and rhythm. He popularized the bebop style of music and was famous for his signature horn-rimmed spectacles. His contribution to modern jazz earned him the title of the Ambassador of Jazz.

 32 
Peggy Lee
(Singer)
Peggy Lee
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Birthdate: May 26, 1920
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Jamestown, North Dakota, United States
Died: January 21, 2002
 33 
Jeff Porcaro
(Former Drummer best known for his work with the rock band Toto, but is one of the most recorded session musicians, working on hundreds of albums and thousands of sessions)
Jeff Porcaro
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Birthdate: April 1, 1954
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Died: August 5, 1992
 34 
Al Jarreau
(Musician)
Al Jarreau
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Birthdate: March 12, 1940
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Died: February 12, 2017
 35 
Jack Bruce
(Composer, Singer, Jazz musician, Diarist, Pianist, Songwriter)
Jack Bruce
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Birthdate: May 14, 1943
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bishopbriggs
Died: October 25, 2014
 36 
Charles Mingus
(One of The Greatest Jazz Musicians & Composers in History)
Charles Mingus
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Birthdate: April 22, 1922
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nogales, Arizona, United States
Died: January 5, 1979
Jazz double bassist and pianist Charles Mingus is remembered for his stints with artists such as Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Dannie Richmond, and Herbie Hancock, and was named to the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame. His scores and recordings are preserved in the Library of Congress.
 37 
Benny Goodman
(Bandleader and clarinetist)
Benny Goodman
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Birthdate: May 30, 1909
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: June 13, 1986
 38 
Chet Atkins
(Guitarist, Jazz musician, Record producer, Jazz guitarist, Classical guitarist, Songwriter)
Chet Atkins
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Birthdate: June 20, 1924
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Luttrell
Died: June 30, 2001
 39 
Judith Durham
(Singer, Jazz musician, Pianist, Songwriter)
Judith Durham
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Birthdate: July 3, 1943
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Essendon

Judith Durham is an Australian musician, singer, and songwriter. In 1963, she became the lead singer of the popular folk-influenced pop quartet The Seekers, which became the first Australian pop band to achieve major sales and chart success in the United States and the United Kingdom. Her services to music earned her the title Victorian of the Year in 2015.

 40 
Henry Mancini
(Composer Best Known for His Soudtrack for the 'Peter Gunn' TV Series & 'The Pink Panther' Film Series)
Henry Mancini
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Birthdate: April 16, 1924
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Little Italy, Ohio, United States
Died: June 14, 1994
 41 
Louis Prima
(Singer-songwriter)
Louis Prima
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Birthdate: December 7, 1910
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Died: August 24, 1978
 42 
Mel Tormé
(Actor, Singer, Composer, Novelist, Songwriter, Autobiographer, Jazz musician, Television actor, Writer)
Mel Tormé
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Birthdate: September 13, 1925
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chicago
Died: June 5, 1999
 43 
Kyle Eastwood
(Actor, Composer, Jazz musician, Music arranger, Jazz guitarist, Film score composer)
Kyle Eastwood
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Birthdate: May 19, 1968
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Los Angeles
 44 
Martin Kemp
(Actor, Musician)
Martin Kemp
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Birthdate: October 10, 1961
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London
 45 
Cindy Breakspeare
(Canadian-Jamaican Jazz Singer, Musician and Winner of Miss World 1976 )
Cindy Breakspeare
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Birthdate: October 24, 1954
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Toronto, Canada

Cindy Breakspeare is a Canadian-Jamaican jazz singer, musician, and beauty queen. She was crowned Miss World 1976, becoming the second Jamaican to clinch the crown. She later became a recording artist and entrepreneur, founding a Rastafarian craft store called Ital Craf. She was once in a relationship with reggae musician Bob Marley that lasted until his death.

 46 
Esperanza Spalding
(Music educator, Jazz musician, Singer)
Esperanza Spalding
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Birthdate: October 18, 1984
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Portland
 47 
Wynton Marsalis
(Trumpeter)
Wynton Marsalis
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Birthdate: October 18, 1961
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
 48 
Oscar Peterson
(Jazz Pianist)
Oscar Peterson
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Birthdate: August 15, 1925
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Montreal
Died: December 23, 2007
Seven-time Grammy-winning jazz pianist Oscar Peterson had initially wished to be a trumpeter but switched to the piano because of a lung ailment. He was the first living person, apart from a king, to get a commemorative Canadian stamp. He used a signature handkerchief between performances.
 49 
Doc Severinsen
(Musician)
Doc Severinsen
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Birthdate: July 7, 1927
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Arlington, Oregon, USA
 50 
Jonathan Cain
(Musician Best Known as the Keyboardist and Rhythm Guitarist for the Rock Band ‘Journey')
Jonathan Cain
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Birthdate: February 26, 1950
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Jonathan Cain is a singer-songwriter and musician. He is a keyboardist for the rock band Journey. Interested in music from a young age, he attended the Chicago Conservatory of Music. He began his professional music career in the mid-1970s and played with numerous bands before joining Journey. He is also a solo artist and owns a recording studio.