Billy Eckstine

Born Jul 8, 1914

William Clarence Eckstine was an American singer of ballads and a bandleader of the swing era. Eckstine's smooth baritone and distinctive vibrato broke down barriers throughout the 1940s, first as leader of the original bop big-band, then as the first romantic black male in popular music. Eckstine's recording of "I Apologize" (MGM Pop Single, 1948) was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999.… Read More

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1914 Birth Born on July 8, 1914.


1933 18 Years Old He left Howard in 1933, after winning first place in an amateur talent contest.


1939 25 Years Old Heading to Chicago, Eckstine joined Earl Hines' Grand Terrace Orchestra in 1939, staying with the band as vocalist and trumpeter, until 1943. … Read More
1942 28 Years Old He married his first wife, June, in 1942.


1944 30 Years Old In 1944, Eckstine formed his own big band and it became the finishing school for adventurous young musicians who would shape the future of jazz. … Read More
1945 31 Years Old Even before folding his band, Eckstine had recorded solo to support it, scoring two million-sellers in 1945 with "Cottage for Sale" and a revival of "Prisoner of Love". … Read More
Eckstine had further success in 1950 with Victor Young’s theme song to "My Foolish Heart," and the next year with a revival of the 1931 Bing Crosby hit, "I Apologize".
1952 38 Years Old After their divorce in 1952, he remarried shortly after to actress and model Carolle Drake in 1953, and they remained married until his death. … Read More


1957 43 Years Old Among Eckstine's recordings of the 1950s was a 1957 duet with Sarah Vaughan, "Passing Strangers", a minor hit in 1957, but an initial No. 22 success in the UK Singles Chart.
1960 46 Years Old The 1960 Las Vegas live album, No Cover, No Minimum, featured Eckstine taking a few trumpet solos and showcased his nightclub act. … Read More


1984 70 Years Old In 1984 Eckstine recorded his penultimate album, I Am a Singer, arranged and conducted by Angelo DiPippo and featuring Toots Thielemans on harmonica.
1986 72 Years Old 1 More Event
After recording sparingly during the 1970s for Al Bell's Stax/Enterprise imprint, the international touring Eckstine made his last recording, the Grammy-nominated Billy Eckstine Sings with Benny Carter in 1986. … Read More
1990 76 Years Old Sammy Davis, Jr. made several live appearances and impersonated Eckstine. Not just for comedy reasons, but because Eckstine was a close friend and a supporter of Martin Luther King. Eckstine was a pallbearer at Davis' Funeral in 1990. … Read More
1992 78 Years Old Eckstine suffered a stroke while performing in Salina, Kansas, in April 1992, and never performed again.
1993 79 Years Old Though his speech improved in hospital, Eckstine later had a heart attack, and died a few months later on March 8, 1993, aged 78. … Read More
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