The Ballad of Thelonius Monk

Published: January 30th, 2010 | Category: News

I was working on some of my songs, one of them being, “The Ballad of Thelonius Monk”. And I started to think how little I knew of this wonderful man, so I went in search of some facts…Let’s go to the Internet!!

Just a few facts that I find facinating about him that don’t have to do with his music: Thelonius Monk – an icon of Jazz music -only one of five Jazz musicians to be featured on Time Magazine cover, the other four being Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Wynton Marsalis, and Dave Brubeck. Some say he suffered from mental illness and others say he was just an odd, yet brilliant musician.

The Baroness Nica de Koenigswarter (remember the song Nica’s Dream?) was the daughter of Charles Rothschild and the Hungarian baroness Rozsika Edle von Wertheimstein. She was a fabulous patron of jazz and helped and supported many artists during her life, Monk and Charlie Parker being two of them.

After Monk stopped performing in public he retired to Nica’s house in Weehawken, New Jersey where he died 1982. Oddly enough, he wasn’t the only jazz musician to die in her house, Charlie Parker died in her Stanhope rooms in 1955, she was asked to leave by the hotel management after that incident and took up rooms at the Bolivar Hotel at 230 Central Park West. Interesting, eh?

On his last tour in 1971, Bassist Al McKibbon said he hardly spoke at all. McKibbon later said: “On that tour Monk said about two words. I mean literally maybe two words. He didn’t say ‘Good morning’, ‘Goodnight’, ‘What time?’ Nothing. Why, I don’t know. He sent word back after the tour was over that the reason he couldn’t communicate or play was that Art Blakey and I were so ugly.”

If someone where to write a bio about you, what do you think they would say? What weird and interesting facts would they come up with. People see others in many different ways, someone might think you are crazy and another would interpret it as creative genius.

Just a little food for thought – have a relaxing weekend!

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