57 Facts About Dizzy Gillespie


John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer, educator and singer.


Dizzy Gillespie was a trumpet virtuoso and improviser, building on the virtuosic style of Roy Eldridge but adding layers of harmonic and rhythmic complexity previously unheard in jazz.


Dizzy Gillespie taught and influenced many other musicians, including trumpeters Miles Davis, Jon Faddis, Fats Navarro, Clifford Brown, Arturo Sandoval, Lee Morgan, Chuck Mangione, and balladeer Johnny Hartman.


Dizzy Gillespie pioneered Afro-Cuban jazz and won several Grammy Awards.


The youngest of nine children of Lottie and James Gillespie, Dizzy Gillespie was born in Cheraw, South Carolina.


Dizzy Gillespie's father was a local bandleader, so instruments were made available to the children.


Dizzy Gillespie started to play the piano at the age of four.

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Dizzy Gillespie's father died when he was only ten years old.


Dizzy Gillespie taught himself how to play the trombone as well as the trumpet by the age of twelve.


Dizzy Gillespie won a music scholarship to the Laurinburg Institute in North Carolina which he attended for two years before accompanying his family when they moved to Philadelphia in 1935.


Teddy Hill's band was where Dizzy Gillespie made his first recording, "King Porter Stomp".


Willis was not immediately friendly but Dizzy Gillespie was attracted anyway.


Dizzy Gillespie stayed with Teddy Hill's band for a year, then left and freelanced with other bands.


In 1939, with the help of Willis, Dizzy Gillespie joined Cab Calloway's orchestra.


Dizzy Gillespie recorded one of his earliest compositions, "Pickin' the Cabbage", with Calloway in 1940.


Already in a foul mood, Calloway blamed Dizzy Gillespie, who refused to take the blame.


Dizzy Gillespie then freelanced with a few bands, most notably Ella Fitzgerald's orchestra, composed of members of the Chick Webb's band.


Dizzy Gillespie joined the big band of Hines' long-time collaborator Billy Eckstine, and it was as a member of Eckstine's band that he was reunited with Charlie Parker, a fellow member.


In 1945, Dizzy Gillespie left Eckstine's band because he wanted to play with a small combo.


Dizzy Gillespie appeared in recordings by the Billy Eckstine band and started recording prolifically as a leader and sideman in early 1945.


Dizzy Gillespie was not content to let bebop sit in a niche of small groups in small clubs.


Dizzy Gillespie started to organize big bands in late 1945.


Dizzy Gillespie appeared frequently as a soloist with Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic.


In 1948, Dizzy Gillespie was involved in a traffic accident when the bicycle he was riding was bumped by an automobile.


Dizzy Gillespie was slightly injured and found that he could no longer hit the B-flat above high C Dizzy Gillespie won the case, but the jury awarded him only $1000 in view of his high earnings up to that point.

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In 1951, Dizzy Gillespie founded his record label, Dee Gee Records; it closed in 1953.


In 1956 Dizzy Gillespie organized a band to go on a State Department tour of the Middle East which was well-received internationally and earned him the nickname "the Ambassador of Jazz".


Dizzy Gillespie was introduced to Chano Pozo in 1947 by Mario Bauza, a Latin jazz trumpet player.


Dizzy Gillespie worked with Mario Bauza in New York jazz clubs on 52nd Street and several famous dance clubs such as the Palladium and the Apollo Theater in Harlem.


In 1977, Dizzy Gillespie met Arturo Sandoval during a jazz cruise to Havana.


Sandoval toured with Dizzy Gillespie and defected in Rome in 1990 while touring with Dizzy Gillespie and the United Nations Orchestra.


Dizzy Gillespie starred in the film The Winter in Lisbon that was released as El invierno en Lisboa in 1992 and re-released in 2004.


Dizzy Gillespie performed one more night but cancelled the rest of the tour for medical reasons, ending his 56-year touring career.


Dizzy Gillespie led his last recording session on January 25,1992.


Dizzy Gillespie was to appear at Carnegie Hall for the 33rd time.


Dizzy Gillespie said his running mate would be Phyllis Diller.


Campaign buttons had been manufactured years before by Dizzy Gillespie's booking agency as a joke but proceeds went to Congress of Racial Equality, Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Martin Luther King Jr.


Shortly after the death of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie encountered an audience member after a show.


Dizzy Gillespie's spirituality brought out generosity and what author Nat Hentoff called an inner strength, discipline, and "soul force".


Dizzy Gillespie's conversion was most affected by Bill Sears' book Thief in the Night.


Dizzy Gillespie married dancer Lorraine Willis in Boston on May 9,1940.


The couple had no children, but Dizzy Gillespie fathered a daughter, jazz singer Jeanie Bryson, born in 1958 from an affair with songwriter Connie Bryson.


Dizzy Gillespie met Bryson, a Juilliard-trained pianist, at the jazz club Birdland in New York City.


The whole essence of a Dizzy Gillespie solo was cliff-hanging suspense: the phrases and the angle of the approach were perpetually varied, breakneck runs were followed by pauses, by huge interval leaps, by long, immensely high notes, by slurs and smears and bluesy phrases; he always took listeners by surprise, always shocking them with a new thought.


Dizzy Gillespie's parents were Methodists, but as a boy he used to sneak off every Sunday to the uninhibited Sanctified Church.

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Dizzy Gillespie was so quick-minded, he could create an endless flow of ideas at unusually fast tempo.


The constriction caused by the bending altered the tone of the instrument, and Dizzy Gillespie liked the effect.


Dizzy Gillespie had the trumpet straightened out the next day, but he could not forget the tone.


Dizzy Gillespie sent a request to Martin to make him a "bent" trumpet from a sketch produced by Lorraine, and from that time forward played a trumpet with an upturned bell.


In December 1986 Dizzy Gillespie gave the National Museum of American History his 1972 King "Silver Flair" trumpet with a Cass mouthpiece.


An image of Dizzy Gillespie's trumpet was selected for the cover of the auction program.


In 1989, Dizzy Gillespie was given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.


The next year, at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts ceremonies celebrating the centennial of American jazz, Dizzy Gillespie received the Kennedy Center Honors Award and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers Duke Ellington Award for 50 years of achievement as a composer, performer, and bandleader.


In 1989, Dizzy Gillespie was awarded with an honorary doctorate of music from Berklee College of Music.


In 1991, Dizzy Gillespie received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement presented by Awards Council member Wynton Marsalis.


In 2014, Dizzy Gillespie was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.


Kevin Hanchard portrayed Dizzy Gillespie in the Chet Baker biopic Born to Be Blue.