Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
JAZZ A Film By Ken Burns
Places, Spaces and Changing Faces
Jazz Lounge
Jazz in Time
Behind the Beat
Biographies
Jazz Exchange
About the Show
JAZZ Kids
Related Links
Jazz Near You
Classroom
Shop Jazz
Jazz Links
Jazz Cards
Home
Miles Davis circa 1955; Duke Ellington; Louis Armstrong; Cover of Sheet Music by Fats Waller
BiographiesSelected Artist Biography
Biographies, Life and times of the great ones Billie Holiday in Performance 1948; Benny Goodman 1936; Art Blakey at the Open Door in NYC; Awning of Village Vanguard 1960's
Charlie Christian

Powered by Oxford University Press.

Charles (1916-1942) Guitarist

Charlie Christian
Image courtesy of Frank Driggs Collection
Charlie Christian grew up in a slum in Oklahoma City. His father was a blind guitarist and singer, his brothers Edward and Clarence were musicians, and Christian himself built and played cigar-box "guitars" during his elementary school days. When he grew up, he became a much-admired local musician in Oklahoma, playing an amplified acoustic guitar as early as 1937. Word of his skill reached John Hammond, who arranged for Christian to travel to Los Angeles in August 1939 for an audition with Benny Goodman. Goodman, deeply impressed by Christian's playing, engaged him and soon featured him on weekly radio broadcasts and in recordings; before the year was over he was a nationally prominent jazz soloist. Unfortunately his success was brief as it was immediate because he contracted tuberculosis in mid-1941 and died a few months later.

The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For personal, non-commercial use only. Copying or other reproduction is prohibited.
Grove Music