Chick Webb



William Henry 'Chick' Webb was probably born on February 10, 1905 in Baltimore, Maryland. He had Tuberculosis as a child and as a result was very short and had a deformed spine which prevented him from standing straight. He had a newspaper route, and by age 11 he purchased his first set of drums. By the age of 17 he had moved to New York City and had formed his own dance band in Harlem. Besides touring the country, he became the house band at the New York City Savoy Ballroom, and helped pioneer the 'swing' style of music. He featured a teenage singer, Ella Fitzgerald, that went on after his death to become one of the great singing voices of the era. For publicity purposes he told the press that he and his wife had adopted Ella, but that was not the case. In 1938, at age 33, his health got progressively worse, but he kept working almost until his death on June 16, 1939, at the age of 34. Thanks to the recent invention of phonographs and 78rpm records, some of his music has survived, and we are blessed with the opportunity to hear it today.

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