American jazz composer, pianist, and bandleader Duke Ellington was born April 29, 1899. One of the greatest jazz artists of all time, Duke Ellington wrote and performed jazz to adoring audiences for over 50 years! Many jazz artists don’t actually write much of their own music, but Duke Ellington was a true composer. As well as his famous jazz pieces, he also wrote music for film, pop music, religious and some pieces that could arguably be considered classical.
When he passed away May 24, 1974, his last words were, “Music is how I live, why I live and how I will be remembered.” Over 12,000 people attended his funeral.