Billy Strayhorn

Born Nov 29, 1915

William Thomas "Billy" Strayhorn was an American composer, pianist and arranger, best known for his successful collaboration with bandleader and composer Duke Ellington lasting nearly three decades. His compositions include "Take the 'A' Train," "Chelsea Bridge," and "Lush Life."… Read More

related links

News + Updates

Browse recent news and stories about Billy Strayhorn.


Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Billy Strayhorn.


1915 Birth Born on November 29, 1915.


1938 22 Years Old He met Duke Ellington in December 1938, after an Ellington performance in Pittsburgh (he had first seen Ellington play in Pittsburgh in 1933). … Read More
1939 23 Years Old Shortly before going on his second European tour with his orchestra, from March to May 1939, Ellington announced to his sister Ruth and son Mercer Ellington that Strayhorn "is staying with us."


1947 31 Years Old Through Mercer, Strayhorn met his first partner, African-American musician Aaron Bridgers, with whom Strayhorn lived until Bridgers moved to Paris in 1947.


1963 47 Years Old Strayhorn was openly gay. He participated in many civil rights causes. As a committed friend to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he arranged and conducted "King Fit the Battle of Alabama'" for the Ellington Orchestra in 1963 for the historical revue (and album) My People, dedicated to King. … Read More
1964 48 Years Old Strayhorn was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 1964, which eventually caused his death in 1967.


1967 51 Years Old 1 More Event
Strayhorn finally succumbed in the early morning on May 31, 1967, in the company of his partner, Bill Grove, not in Lena Horne's arms as has often been falsely reported. … Read More
Original Authors of this text are noted on
Text is made available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.