Art Blakey

Born Oct 11, 1919

Arthur "Art" Blakey, known later as Abdullah Ibn Buhaina, was an American Grammy Award-winning jazz drummer and bandleader. Along with Kenny Clarke and Max Roach, he was one of the inventors of the modern bebop style of drumming. He is known as a powerful musician and a vital groover; his brand of bluesy, funky hard bop was and continues to be profoundly influential on mainstream jazz.… Read More

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1919 Birth Blakey was born on October 11, 1919 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to a single mother, who died shortly after his birth. … Read More


1939 19 Years Old From 1939-44, Blakey played with fellow Pittsburgh native Mary Lou Williams and toured with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra.


1942 22 Years Old While sources differ on the timing, most agree that he traveled to New York with Williams in 1942 before joining Henderson a year later. (Some accounts have him joining Henderson as early as 1939.) While playing in Henderson's band, Blakey got into a scuffle with Georgia police and suffered injures that got him declared unfit for service in WWII. … Read More
1944 24 Years Old From 1944-47, Blakey worked with Billy Eckstine's big band. … Read More
After the Eckstine band broke up, Blakey states that he traveled to Africa for a time: "In 1947, after the Eckstine band broke up, we -- took a trip to Africa. … Read More
1949 29 Years Old Around the same time (1947), or 1949 he led a big band called Seventeen Messengers. … Read More


1954 34 Years Old 1 More Event
The "Jazz Messengers" name was first used for this group on a 1954 recording nominally led by Silver, with Blakey, Mobley, Dorham and Doug Watkins – the same quintet recorded The Jazz Messengers at the Cafe Bohemia the following year, still functioning as a collective. … Read More


1973 53 Years Old …  Blakey was a heavy smoker; he appears in a cloud of smoke on the Buhaina's Delight (1961) album cover, and in extended footage of a 1973 appearance with Ginger Baker, Blakey begins a long drummers' "duel" with cigarette alight. … Read More


1990 70 Years Old 1 More Event
Blakey's final performances were in July 1990. … Read More
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