Nat King Cole Biography
Nat Cole and three other musicians formed the “King Cole Swingers” in Long Beach and played in a number of local bars before getting a gig on the Long Beach Pike for US$90 per week.
Nat married a dancer Megan Robinson, who was also with Shuffle Along, and moved to Los Angeles where he formed the Nat King Cole Trio. The trio consisted of Nat on piano, Oscar Moore on guitar, and Wesley Prince on double bass. The trio played in Los Angeles throughout the late 1930s and recorded many radio transcriptions. Nat’s role was that of piano player and leader of the combo.
In 1939 he began recording for Decca with his original King Cole Trio, whose piano–bass-guitar instrumentation was widely copied by combos in the 1940s and 1950s. The group played in Hollywood and New York nightclubs until 1943, when it had its first national hit, ‘Straighten Up and Fly Right’, featuring solo singing by Cole. Starting with ‘The Christmas Song’ (1946), he augmented his trio with a studio orchestra and gradually reduced the prominence of his piano playing, which had been highly influential among jazz musicians.