The wigging cat with the far-out wail,
Brubeck was the man behind the first million-selling jazz record, "Time Out," in 1959. He created buzz on the jazz circuit (thus Time's "wigging cat" description) and left a lasting legacy in the genre. But before he wailed, he rode.
Brubeck, born Dec. 6, 1920, in Concord, Calif., was the son of a cattle rancher and pianist mom, and he grew up milking cows, hauling wood and herding cattle. His father wanted Dave to follow him in his cowboy bootsteps, as biographer Fred Hall documented.
Hall wrote that, at 16, Brubeck daydreamed that Benny Goodman's band would be heading past the family ranch to a nearby ballroom, and he would intercept them. "I wouldn't let 'em through the cattle. I had herded hundreds of cattle on the road. Then I'd get on the bus and ... I'd be discovered!"
Brubeck, known for his horn-rimmed glasses, was born cross-eyed. Instead of sight reading, he first learned to play by ear. With the eyesight problems and the cowboy leanings, music wasn't an obvious career path for Brubeck. When he started college, he reportedly had plans to be a veterinarian. After his first year, he switched to music.
Next came four years in
Read more about Brubeck's musical achievements.
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