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Charles (1916-1942) Guitarist
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.
Image courtesy of Frank Driggs Collection
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