Charlie “Bird” Parker

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August 29, 1920 – March 12, 1955

“You can tell the history of jazz in four words: Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker.” – Miles Davis

Charlie Parker, known throughout the musical world simply as “Bird,” was an influential jazz musician whose style and creativity helped pioneer the Bebop movement. Born in Kansas City, KS, Parker left school at an early age to pursue music – specifically, the saxophone. He moved to New York where he played with the likes of greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis. During his time in New York, he began experimenting with new chord progressions and melody transitions. His unique improv style helped usher in the small-ensemble Bebop movement and changed jazz forever. As with any creative talent with the world at his fingertips, drugs began to play a heavy role in Parker’s life. He became addicted to heroin and, later, as a substitute for not having enough access to heroin, alcohol. According to script, he died at the young age of 34 in New York City from a whole host of complications that arise when you chase heroin with a quart of whiskey for more than a decade.

In life and in death, his influence extended well beyond jazz and music. He was especially popular among the so-called Beat poets who were forging their way in New York at the same time. Allen Ginsberg considered Parker and his contemporaries as the “Secret Heroes” of the Beat generation.

Burial

Lincoln Cemetery, Kansas City MO

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Photo (and saxophone) courtesy of Carl Kincaid

Specific Location

Enter the cemetery and Charlie’s highly-visible grave marker will be on your right a little more than halfway in, on the north side of the main road.

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