Gillespie, John

Gillespie, (John Birks) “Dizzy”

(1917–93) jazz musician; born in Cheraw, S.C. After working in the swing bands of Teddy Hill, Cab Calloway, and Earl Hines between 1937–41, he emerged as a leading exponent of bebop and as the most influential trumpeter in the new idiom. In the late 1940s he helped to introduce "Afro-Cuban" jazz to the U.S. From 1945 he alternated between leading small and big bands. In 1956 he led an orchestra on two international tours as cultural missions for the U.S. State Department. He was featured at the White House jazz party hosted by President Carter in 1979, and he received numerous official honors from the U.S. and European governments. His autobiography, To Be Or Not To Bop, was published in 1979.