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Jazz Music

Bill Doggett

Bill DoggettWilliam Ballard Doggett was born February 16, 1916, on the north side of Philadelphia. At age nine, Doggett was attracted to the trumpet, but his family could not afford one. Bill's mother, Wynona, was a church pianist and his inspiration. Within a few years, he switched to the piano and was hailed as a child prodigy by the time he was thirteen. At fifteen, he formed his first combo, the Five Majors. While attending Central High School, he found work playing in the pit orchestra at the Nixon Grand theater with the Jimmy Gorman Band.



Eventually, he inherited Gorman's fifteen-piece orchestra. His career as a band leader was short-lived as he came to the conclusion that the field was over crowded. In financial distress , he sold the band to Lucky Millender and joined Millender himself. In 1939, Doggett with Jimmy Munder, Benny Goodman's arranger, form an orchestra. Later that year Doggett made his first two recordings as part of Lucky's band, "Little Old Lady From Baltimore" and "All Aboard," released on the Varsity label.
Although he formed a short-lived orchestra with Benny Goodman's arranger, Jimmy Mundy, in late 1939, Doggett continued to work primarily as a sideman. Playing piano and arranging for the Ink Spots from 1942 until 1944, he went on to arrange tunes for Count Basie's band and tour and/or record with Coleman Hawkins, Johnny Otis, Wynonie Harris, Ella Fitzgerald and Lionel Hampton. Replacing Wild Bill Davis in Louis Jordan's band, in 1947, he appeared on the influential tunes, "Saturday Night Fish Fry" and "Blue Light Boogie." He made his debut as an organist during June 1951 recording sessions with Ella Fitzgerald.
Debuting his own organ-led combo at New York nightclub, the Baby Grand, in June 1952, Doggett recorded more than a dozen singles before striking gold with "Honky Tonk" four years later.
A longtime resident of Long Island, New York, Doggett died on November 13, 1996, three days after suffering a heart attack.

Bill Doggett - Blip Blop

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