Williams James Basie was born in Red Bank, New Jersey on August 21, 1904. Lillian Childs Basie, his mother worked as a laundress. Harvey Lee Basie, his father worked as a groundskeeper and coachman. Although “Count” didn’t grow up with much money the family did manage to get enough to pay for him to receive weekly piano lessons. “Count” was extremely talented being that he was able to play any song that he heard. He dropped out of junior high school, and went on to operating lights, and improvised piano for silent films at his hometown’s local movie theater. That theater is now known as the Count Bassie Theatre. In 1924, Basie moved to Harlem NY where his career took off quickly. Other Jazz icons such as Willie “the Lion” Smith and Fats Waller took Bassie under their wing and taught him more about the world of music while they toured. In 1935, after performing with multiple big bands Bassie formed his own. Bassie’s band, Barons of Rhythm was a nine-piece band who performed regularly at Reno Club in Kansas City, and live for a radio broadcast. Ever-popular record producer at the time John Hammond heard one of the band’s broadcast and longed to work with them. Soon after traveling to Kansas City, he began to book Bassie’s band and shop them out to record companies and agents. In 1937, Basie’s band traveled to New York to record their first album with Decca Records, with their new name “The Count Basie Orchestra”. The Count Basie Orchestra had plenty of hits such as April in Paris, Jumpin’ at the Woodside, and One O’clock Jump which was an original composition of Basie’s and became the orchestra’s signature piece. Due to financial troubles, Basie was forced to disband the orchestra. In 1958, Basie became the first African American to receive a Grammy, and was the owner of nine at the end of his career. Basie is credited for creating the use of the two “split” tenor saxophone, layering masterful vocals, and emphasizing the rhythm section. Basie passed away in Hollywood, FL on April 26, 1984.