Duke Ellington, born April 29, 1899
Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington is a legendary figure in jazz history — and rightfully so. As a composer, pianist, and bandleader, Ellington’s contributions to jazz were immense and he is credited for elevating the public’s perception of jazz music to that of an art music. His career spanned over 50 years, and included leading his unique orchestras, writing over 1000 compositions in a broad variety of styles, scoring for movies, composing stage musicals, and going on world tours. Several of his compositions have become jazz standards. He was awarded with a number of honors, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an Honorary PhD from Berklee College of Music, the Legion of Honor by the country of France, and a posthumous Pulitzer Prize.
Duke Ellington died on May 24, 1974 at age 75 from lung cancer and pneumonia.