Once he had put together the band he felt was a winning combination, it wasn’t long before success on radio, records and film were there for him. He was not an easy man to work for and the stories that have been handed down from his sidemen, vocalists and others associated with him professionally, read like a comic-tragedy. But from the time he began his professional career in the mid to late 1920s on through to his death in 1986, he was worshipped by an adoring public.
He was born to be a leader, not a sideman the rest of his life and because of this vision he not only became a superb jazz improviser but a household name who literally ushered in a new genre of popular music and art form. He was and is an icon.