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Charlie Parker
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    (August 29, 1920-March 12, 1955)
    Recorded 'Bird of Paradise,' 'Just Friends,' 'Yardbird Suite,' 'Salt Peanuts,' 'A Night in Tunisia,' 'Scrapple from the Apple,' 'Ko Ko,' 'Parker's Mood' and 'Ornithology'
    Nicknamed 'Yardbird' and 'Bird'
    Namesake of Birdland night club and Charlie Parker Place in New York City
    Bleeding Gums Murphy on 'The Simpsons' is based on him
    There are dozens of stories of how he got his nickname.
    He quit school at fifteen
    He married at sixteen.
    He was married four times and had five children.
    He abused drugs and alcohol, wasting most of his money on those habits.
    Some musicians at the time started using drugs, thinking that Parker's musical talent was related to his drug use.
    He became erratic, unreliable and at times could barely stand at the microphone to perform.
    He suffered a nervous breakdown and set fire to his hotel room. He was then sent to a state hospital (1946).
    When he died, he was so haggard that the coroner thought that he was between 50 and 60-years-old.
    He is considered one of the greatest and most influential jazz musicians and saxophone players of all time.
    He became an expert jazz musician in a relatively short period of time. He accomplished this by listening to local musicians and practicing his saxophone for hours a day.
    He combined jazz with classical and Latin music.
    He was called a sell-out when he recorded an album with a classical string section. However it turned into one of Parker's best-selling records and one of his personal favorites.
    He didn't advocate drug use, saying: 'Any musician who says he is playing better on tea, the needle, or when he is juiced, is a plain, straight liar.'
    He was deeply affected when one of his daughters died of pneumonia.
    He made several attempts to clean up from drugs.
    Clint Eastwood directed a biographical film about him.

Credit: Calvin

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