On this day, in 1903, jazz legend Bix Beiderbecke was born.
Along with Louis Armstrong, Beiderbecke was one of the most influential jazz players of the 1920s. His skill at playing the cornet, and the way he could improvise, made him one of the premiere soloists of his age. The way he played ballads was a precursor to cool jazz that emerged in the 1950s.
With no formal musical training, Bix played with such bands as The Wolverines, The Bucktown Five, and the Jean Goldkette Orchestra. His greatest recordings ("Singin' the Blues," "I'm Coming, Virginia") were done with that orchestra in 1927.
It's his early death, at the age of 28, that cemented him as a legend. The official cause of death was lobar pneumonia, though historians agree that acute alcoholism played a role. Though little known outside the jazz world at the time of his death, he's since been immortalized in novels, films and more.
"I'm Coming, Virginia":
"Singin' the Blues":