Earl Hines was born December 28, 1903 in Duquesne, Pennsylvania and became affectionally know as “Fatha” Hines in jazz circles. Hailed as the first modern jazz pianist, Hines style differed from other pianists of the '20's in his use of what was then considered unusual rhythms and accents. Hines became a dominate force on the Jazz scene and his playing shapes the history of jazz. Hines came from a musical family with his father playing cornet in a brass band and his stepmother playing the organ at their local church.
Hines took classical piano lessons as a child and by age eleven he was playing the church organ. By age seventeen Hines had a regular gig playing piano for Lois Deppe in a Pittsburgh nightclub. Deppe decided to take Hines on the road with him to perform around New York City. Hines first recordings were for Gennett Records with Deppe in 1923. Shortly thereafter Hines moved to Chicago, which had a thriving Jazz scene at the time. By 1926 Hines was at the forefront of the Hot Jazz style when he met Louis Armstrong at the local musician's union hall; the two became friends instantly and formed a working relationship playing and recording music together and managing their own club together.
1928 was a productive year for Hines: he recorded his first ten piano solos including versions of "A Monday Date," "Blues in Thirds" and "57 Varieties." Hines worked much of the year with Jimmie Noone's Apex Club Orchestra, in addition to his work with Louis Armstrong on the Hot Five and Hot Seven recording sessions. That same year Hines debuted his first big band at Chicago's Grand Terrace Cafe, which the public loved and flocked to see. Hines would continue to lead his own big bands until 1948. Over the years Hines' Big Band saw musicians, such as Billy Eckstine and both Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker join. In 1948 Hines reconnected with long-time friend, Louis Armstrong to play with the All-Stars for three years.
1951 saw Hines eyesight began to deteriorate from injuries he has incurred in car cash 5 years earlier, he moved to California and formed a Hot Jazz band to cash in on the Dixieland revival that was going on at the time. He continued the Dixieland band throughout the '50's, however, by the '60's Hines was no longer a focal point of the mainstream Jazz scene, he had been forgotten. Hines didn't go quietly though, in 1964 he staged a major comeback that lasted throughout the rest of his career until he died on April 22, 1983, leaving behind a legendary status and a wealth of work that will never be forgotten.