Nat "King" Cole
Inspired by the playing of Fatha Hines, Nat Cole began his performing career in the mid 1930s while he was still a teenager, and adopted the name Nat “King” Cole presumably from the nursery rhyme about “Old King Cole”.
In 1944 his ﬁrst hits as a vocalist were “Straighten Up and Fly Right”, “It’s Only a Paper Moon” and “Sweet Lorraine.” In 1946, his first #1 chart topper, "I Love You For Sentimental Reasons" and “The Christmas Song,” still an annual holiday favorite, began to create his "velvet voice" image.
His stature as a popular icon was cemented during the 1950s with “Nature Boy, “For Sentimental Reasons”, Nat’s signature song “Unforgettable”, “Mona Lisa”, “Embraceable You”, “Walkin’ My Baby Back Home”, “Get Your Kicks on Route 66”, “Smile”, “Pretend”, “If I May”, “Darling Je Vous Aime Beaucoup”, “A Blossom Fell”, “Answer Me My Love”, “Forgive My Heart”, “To Young To Go Steady”, “Night Lights”, “Ballerina”, “Send For Me”, “Looking Back” and “Non Dimenticar.”
As the 1960s progressed, Nat once again found success with Hit Parade toppers, “Ramblin’ Rose”, “Dear Lonely Hearts”, “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Day of Summer” and “That Sunday, That Summer”.
Over a period of 23 years, Nat King Cole landed on the Hit Parade 118 times with 21 top ten hits.
With more than 50 albums to his credit, Nat Cole’s unparalleled sale of records helped fuel much of Capitol Records’ success it the labels early years and is widely acknowledged to have played a signiﬁcant role in ﬁnancing the distinctive Capitol Records building on Vine Street in Los Angeles, California. Completed in 1956, the world’s ﬁrst circular ofﬁce building was and is known by many as “the house that Nat built.”
Nat “King” Cole was the ﬁrst African American to have his own radio program. He repeated that success in the late-1950s with the ﬁrst truly national television show starring an African-American.
At just 45 years of age, Nat “King” Cole, a heavy smoker, died of lung cancer in February 1965 while still at the height of his singing career.
By mixing his voice with her singing, his daughter Natalie Cole performed a 'duet' with him years after his death, singing Unforgettable.
In 2007 Nat "King" Cole was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.