Earl “Fatha” Hines was one of the greatest and most influential pianist of the swing-era. Born in Duquesne, PA (about 12 miles from Pittsburgh) in 1903, he briefly played trumpet as a youth before switching to piano. He moved to Chicago in 1923 and played and recorded with several bands before teaming up with Louis Armstrong in 1926. By 1928 (at the age of 25) Hines was leading his own big band orchestra at Chicago’s Grand Terrace (notable as being owned by gangster Al Capone). He would lead a big band for the next 20 years.
Forced to give up his big band in 1948 due to economic conditions, Hines continued playing with various ensembles (to include Louis Armstrong’s All-Stars), and later formed a Dixieland band. However, by the early 1960’s he was largely forgotten. He played a series of concerts in New York City in 1964 and was “re-discovered” as he amazed jazz critics and audiences with his creativity, vitality and virtuosity. Once once again Earl “Fatha” Hines was back in the limelight, staying active both playing and recording until his death in 1983.