Thursday, January 31, 2008

Nat King Cole: “Route 66”

This is Nat King Cole (1919-1965) performing “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66.” The date of this film clip is unknown but the Nat King Cole Trio recorded this song in 1946. It was one of Nat King Cole’s signature songs.

Cole was a popular pianist and singer from the 1940’s until his death in 1965 and had many hits on the pop charts during those years.

He made history with his television program, The Nat King Cole Show, which ran between 1956 and 1957 on NBC-TV. Although he was not the first African-American to host a television program (that honor goes to Hazel Scott in 1950), he was the best known of those early pioneers. Despite the popularity of the program potential sponsors shied away from it because of the risks associated with promoting a black artist.

Cole was a chain smoker (up to three packs a day) who believed smoking kept his voice low. Nat King Cole died of lung cancer in 1965.

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