Dizzie’s real name is John Birks Gillespie.
He was born in the country, Cheraw, South Carolina on October 21, 1917.
And he was the last of nine children.
Dizzy’s father kept a piano, a guitar, a set of drums, the mandolin
and also a big red one string base fiddle in their living room.
Well they weren’t running around too much
but Dizzy had the opportunity to play with all of these instruments.
When Dizzy was 12 years old, two important things happened.
First he saw Duke Ellington in a movie
and Duke was well dressed and presented himself so elegantly.
Diz loved Duke’s style and his music inspired him to become a serious musician.
He said to himself, man I am going to practice
not just harder but harder than everybody else.
And this is what made him a great musician.
Then in 1842 Dizzy joined a band led by pianist Earl Hines also in
the band was a genius alto saxophonist
Charles Yardbird Parker, they called him Bird.
They were what we call innovators.
Innovators are people who figure out how to make a new idea work.
Like the Wright brothers with their airplane or Picasso figuring out how to
put all of your face in your nose and still look good.
The new type of music they played was called bebop.
Dizzy continued to mature as a musician because he was curious.
His interests led him to the music of other cultures.
He was always trying to find connections,
things that we all have in common.
And this was a long time before the internet I am talking about.