JOHN BIRK DIZZY GILLESPIE
October 21, 1917, Cheraw, SC to January 6, 1993, Englewood, NJ
John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer and occasional singer. Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker were the co-founders of the BOP which revolutionized the movement of jazz during the 1940’s. The phenomenon took the United States Music industry by storm and worldwide recognition.
John (Dizzy) was born Cheraw, South Carolina, and was the youngest of nine children. He began playing piano at the age of four and received a music scholarship to the Laurinburg Institute in North Carolina.
He joined Teddy Hill band and also replaced his idol Roy Eldridge known as “Little Jazz” who joined the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra. . He toured Europe with the band during 1939. He worked with Ella Fitz Gerald, Earl Hines and many other famous artists at the time.
His creation of music was that Dizzy was able to fuse Afro-American jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms to form a burgeoning CuBop sound. Always a musical ambassador, he toured Africa, the Middle East and Latin America with big bands and Quintets which some were subsidized by the United States Department.
Dizzy died on January 6, 1993. His wife Lorraine Willis also passed away that same year. He has one daughter Jeanie Bryson
As a pioneer and visionary he has left behind an impeccable legacy of musical excellence that embraced and fused all musical forms, but particularly those forms with roots deep in Africa such as the music of Cuba, Latin and the Caribbean.