Art Blakey was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on October 11th 1919. He was a leading American jazz drummer and band leader and is partly credited with creating the post bop or hard bop era of jazz.
Until the age of 11 Blakey was a self-taught pianist, even playing in clubs. However, at the age of 13, during the gig he was playing, Errol Garner took over from him at piano and Blakey was told to play the drums. This was the start of a long and influential career as a jazz drummer.
As a budding drummer Blakey was tutored by the best in his field – serving as Chick Webb’s valet.
On returning to his home town Blakey formed his own band, teaming up with pianist Mary Lou Williams. From there on he played for and with the best. He spent 3 years touring with Fletcher Henderson, spent a subsequent year in Boston and then joined Billy Eckstine’s band, where he played alongside the greats of jaz, including Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk.