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Sun, 12.05.1915

Edward Heywood Jr., Bandleader born

Edward Heywood Jr.

*Edward Heywood was born on this date in 1915. He was a Black jazz pianist and bandleader.

Edward Heywood Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia. His father, Eddie Heywood Sr., was a strong jazz pianist of the 1920s who often accompanied Butterbeans and Susie. He provided his son with training from the age of 12 as an accompanist playing in the pit band in a vaudeville theater in Atlanta.

He would occasionally accompany singers such as Bessie Smith and Ethel Waters. Heywood moved to New Orleans and then to Kansas City when vaudeville began to be replaced by sound pictures. Heywood played with several popular jazz musicians such as Wayman Carver in 1932, Clarence Love from 1934 to 1937, and Benny Carter. After starting his band, Heywood would occasionally do back-up for Billie Holiday in 1941. In 1943, Heywood took several classic solos on a Coleman Hawkins quartet date (including "The Man I Love") and put together a sextet, including Doc Cheatham, Vic Dickenson, Lem Davis (as), Al Lucas (b), and Jack Parker (d). After their version of "Begin the Beguine" became a hit in 1944, they had three successful years.

The Eddie Heywood Sextet (above image) was very popular in the mid-'40s, playing melodic and tightly arranged versions of swing standards. In 1947, Heywood was stricken with partial paralysis of his hands and could not play at all. However, he made a comeback in 1951. In the 1950s, Heywood composed and recorded "Land of Dreams" and "Soft Summer Breeze" (1956) (which peaked at number 11 on the Billboard chart). He is probably best known for his 1956 recording of his composition "Canadian Sunset" (which peaked at number 2) which he recorded with Hugo Winterhalter and his orchestra for RCA Victor. After a second partial paralysis from 1966 to 1969, Heywood made another comeback and continued his career into the 1980s. 

Edward Heywood Jr. died at home in Miami Beach, Florida on January 3, 1989, at aged 73. Parkinson's disease had been complicated by Alzheimer's disease. Heywood has a "Star" at 1709 Vine Street on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He had two sons, Robert and Edward, and one granddaughter, Bailey Heywood.

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