William James “Count” Basie was born on August 21, 1904, in Red Bank. A pianist, he played vaudeville before eventually forming his own big band and helping to define the era of swing with hits like “One O’Clock Jump” and “Blue Skies.” In 1958, Basie became the first African-American male recipient of a Grammy Award. One of jazz music’s all-time greats, he won many other Grammys throughout his career and worked with a plethora of artists, including Joe Williams and Ella Fitzgerald. Basie died in Florida on April 26, 1984.
Basie is honored in Red Bank with a monument at the train station, and the former Carlyle Theater was renamed in his honor, The Count Basie Theater.
For an outstanding full bio of Count Basie, visit the Rutgers University website devoted to all things Basie, at https://countbasie.rutgers.edu/.