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Eddie Cole

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Jazz bassist Eddie Cole had the misfortune to be the older sibling of a much more famous musician, jazz and pop legend Nat "King" Cole. He never saw anything like the popularity of his younger brother, though they worked together during the late '30s and Eddie Cole got to cut his first credited records as a bandleader in association with Nat "King" Cole's late-'30s group the Rogues of Rhythm. The first child of Reverend Edward J. Cole and the former Perlina Adams, Eddie Cole was born in 1910 in Montgomery, AL. In 1923, four years after the birth of his younger brother Nat, the family moved to Chicago. As a boy, he studied both piano and bass and by the time he was 17, he had organized his own band. At age 20, he was recruited into the ranks of Noble Sissle's band the Sizzling Syncopators, staying there six years and playing alongside such greats and Sidney Bechet and Clarence Brereton. Following a tour of Europe in 1936, Cole left Sissle's band to join his brother's group, the Rogues of Rhythm, with whom he recorded both under their name and also several sides credited to Eddie Cole's Solid Swingers, which featured him on vocals and bass as well as piano. Following World War II, Cole relocated to Philadelphia, where he organized a new group mixing comedy and jazz, called the Three Loose Nuts and a Bolt; later on, he changed his focus more exclusively toward music, renaming his band Eddie Cole & His Gang. The group, which included Jimmy White on guitar, Duke Johnson on bass, and Charles "Jelly Bean" Johnson on drums, was popular locally and released three singles on Ivin Ballen's Gotham Records label in 1950, but Cole never enjoyed anything like the success or fame of his younger brother. During the second half of the 1950s, Cole moved to Los Angeles and later formed a piano/vocal duo -- the Two Hot Coles -- with his wife, the former Betty King; they were among the earliest artists signed to the fledgling Warner Bros. label at the end of the 1950s. His contact with Warner Bros. gave Eddie Cole one last chance at stardom in 1959 when he took on a role in the new Warner Bros. television detective series Bourbon Street Beat, playing the Baron, a pianist at the New Orleans club around which the action took place. The series only lasted a year, though it did yield a soundtrack album that included Cole. He retired during the 1960s and passed away in 1970 at the age of 60. ~ Bruce Eder


1910 in Montgomery, AL

Years Active:

'30s, '40s, '50s, '60s