Life is just strange sometimes…

I spent most of Thursday digging into Freddy Cole’s interesting background and his circuitous path to success.

I’ve been enchanted of late with the younger siblings of major vocal stars — guys like Freddy Cole (Nat), Bob Crosby (Bing) — and have articles on these guys coming up in the queue soon.

Anyway … after steeping myself in Freddy Cole (and by association the other Cole family singers), what should land in my inbox the next day?

Don’t tell my mom…

… but I’ve apparently fallen in with music promoters 😉 . My good friend Jim Raposa was nice enough to copy me on a Nat King Cole birthday tribute letter he received from legendary Jazz music promoter, Dick LaPalm.


…doesn’t even begin to cover Dick’s “corner stone” career. Getting plays back in the day for Nat Cole and the likes of Mel Tormé, Dick Haymes, Sarah Vaughan, Peggy Lee, Count Basie, (many, many more) and continuing today with great artists like Frank D’Rone, Dick LaPalm took his pen to the margins of the American Songbook and certainly left his mark.

Nat’s 93rd Birthday…

Today, Mr. LaPalm has penned a wonderful tribute letter to his friend and contemporary. It’s great reading and says it all about the man who’s music and voice evokes so much emotion and so many descriptors … precise, smooth, cool, round, warm. But for me, Nat King Cole is captured in one simple word — pure.

There was simply no one better.

Now please enjoy Mr. LaPalm’s beautiful birthday tribute below:


© 1978 Wallace Seawell

Dear Radio Royalty,

This coming Saturday, March 17, NAT KING COLE turns 93. Using the present tense is absolutely fitting. Today, at every hour, radio stations around the world continue to broadcast his timeless music. He is, indeed, still very much with us. He still stands out from the rest, and he stands alone. Comparing anyone to Nat Cole is simply impossible.

His career comprised two major areas of activity. From 1936 to 1948 he was an extraordinary jazz pianist, centering a great trio with a fresh sound, and his own distinctive style. A thorough craftsman, his playing was to cause a sense of wonderment amongst other pianists. His work has influenced such pianists as Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Ahmad Jamal, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, etc. His musical talents remain untouched and undimmed by the passing of time.

From 1948 until his death on February 15, 1965, he was a singer, soloing as a husky-smooth baritone, backed by all manner of accompaniments. In his brief lifetime, he had two major careers. He excelled and remained at the top of both of them. No one else in the music business has ever matched this dual achievement. No one.

His accomplishments in these two fields are important for their excellence and exceptional taste. Many of his peers revere his work as a high standard by which to learn, and to measure themselves.

Fortunately, he bequeathed us an abundance of recordings (over 1500) that allows us to hear of him what we wish, when we wish. One thing of which I’m certain, is how blessed we are to have had him among us, albeit much too briefly. He was kind. He was gifted. He was thoughtful. He was gracious. He was disciplined. He was loving. He was elegant. He was giving. He was aware. He was real. He was my dear friend. He was Nat Cole.

Happy Birthday, Nathaniel.

Dick LaPalm


Thanks Dick … Happy Birthday Nat!

Don’t forget to spin some great NKC this weekend. “Blue Gardenia” just went by while I was wrapping up this post … pure man … pure.

  • Jim Raposa

    Steve, thanks for your post. Nat was and remains a giant in the pantheon of American pop and jazz music. Thanks again for setting aside some bandwidth to honor this great gentleman of song. Jim Raposa —

    • vs_guy

      Hey Jim, thanks for stopping by for a visit. It’s never a problem budgeting time for Nat (especially on his birthday) or for you and Dick for that matter!

  • vs_guy

    Hey Jim, thanks for stopping by for a visit. It’s never a problem budgeting time for Nat (especially on his birthday) or you and Dick for that matter!

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