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Biography

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Overview (5)

Date of Birth 30 January 1911Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Date of Death 26 February 1989Valley Stream, Long Island, New York, USA
Birth NameDavid Roy Eldridge
Nicknames Little Jazz
Speedy Gonzales
Height 5' 3" (1.6 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Roy Eldridge was born on January 30, 1911 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA as David Roy Eldridge. He was married to Viola Lee Fong. He died on February 26, 1989 in Valley Stream, Long Island, New York, USA.

Spouse (1)

Viola Lee Fong (24 January 1936 - 26 February 1989) (his death) (1 child)

Trivia (8)

Inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1985.
Jazz trumpeter.
Biography in: "American National Biography". Supplement 1, pp. 184-185. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume Two, 1986-1990, pages 272-274. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999.
Encountered much racism while with the orchestras of Gene Krupa and Artie Shaw. In 1938, he contemplated quitting as a performer, briefly going on to study radio engineering.
Outstanding swing-era trumpeter, a great stylist, who first gained international recognition with the Gene Krupa Orchestra (the only African-American member of the band, often exposing him to racist attacks), featuring on many classic solos, including "Rockin' Chair", "After You've Gone" and "Let Me Off Uptown" (with Anita O'Day). Fronted the band after Krupa was jailed in 1943 (even, on occasion, playing the drums), later leading several big bands under his own name in Chicago (Three Deuces Club) and New York (Savoy Ballroom, Famous Door, Arcadia Ballroom, etc).
The contrast between his short physical stature and his energetic playing prompted Ellington saxophonist Otto Hardwick to bestow upon him the sobriquet of 'Little Jazz'.
Led his first band at the age of twenty, billed as Roy Elliott and his Palais Royal Orchestra.

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