Jacob Mendez
Jacob Mendez

He smoked three packs a day. He was dying, they lied until the end that it was different

Nat King Cole he started his career in the late 1930s. During almost three decades of his career, he made the audience fall in love with him with his deep voice and jazz instinct. He recorded a total of about 100 songs, and many of them became hits that have become a permanent part of the history of American and world songs.

He started his career as a jazz pianist in… The King Cole Trio. By the end of the 1940s, it turned out that they were the best-selling (and the only one composed of black musicians) music group in the USA. For jazz musicians of subsequent generations, the band became a precursor of what a small jazz band should look like. In 1950, he decided to start a solo career under his own name. In 1956-1957, he hosted the first program on American television hosted by an African American, “The Nat King Cole Show” – a program that had to go off the air due to lack of sponsors. “I like Nat Cole – but they told me if he came back on the air they would bomb my house and my station,” said one NBC representative in Alabama.

Nat King Cole’s career was full of dozens of hits, but he created during a time of conflict and racial discrimination in the USA. He believed that in order to convince people to stop discrimination, it was necessary to gain their respect – thanks to this, the conflicting parties could be reconciled. “White people come to applaud black people, just like people of color do. When you have respect for white people and people of color, you can ease a lot of things. I can help ease the tension by gaining the respect of both races throughout the country,” he said after one of his television appearances. in Las Vegas he showed America live that he was performing for a segregated audience. In 1963, the musician, among others, participated in the famous March on Washington.

His greatest hits included, among others: “Unforgettable”, “Smile”, “When I Fall in Love”, “Let There Be Love”, “Autumn Leaves”, “For Sentimental Reasons”, “Almost Like Being in Love” Whether “LOVE”. He also has several awards that he received after his death, such as an honorary Grammy Award and a Golden Globe for “special achievements”.

Cole’s distinctive, gravelly voice brought him fame. Smoking had a significant “contribution” to this sound – in his youth, everyone did it, and he certainly wasn’t aware of its harmful effects. He could smoke three packs of menthol Kools a day.

When he was only 45 years old and at the height of his fame, his health suddenly began to deteriorate. In September 1964, he began to feel very ill, and in December he was admitted to a hospital in Santa Monica, where he began radiation therapy. This had no effect. In January 1965, his left lung was removed, and less than a week later his father died – this news greatly worsened his already poor condition. It turned out that he could count on a loyal group of fans who literally flooded him with messages of a speedy recovery (he received hundreds of thousands of cards).

However, the artist’s spokesmen did not want to publicly reveal what was happening to the singer, who had recently been present almost everywhere. They adopted the tactic to describe Cole’s outstanding form and imminent announcement of his return to the stage. “Nat King Cole successfully underwent major surgery, (…) the ‘champion’ sees a bright future as he will soon resume his career,” one could read in the February 6, 1965 issue of Billboard.

Even though Cole was cheating on his wife Maria Cole with the singer Gunilia Hutton, it was the illness that caused him to return to his family. He also announced a media campaign about the harmful effects of smoking, only if she recovered.

Before his death, he was working on an album “LOVE”, from which the legendary title track came. He recorded it during his last recording session, a week before his hospitalization.

However, the doctors did not have good news. In early February 1965, Nat King Cole thought his condition was terminal. On Valentine’s Day 1965, he managed to sneak out of the hospital – he left Saint John’s Hospital in Santa Monica and went with his wife for a car ride to the seaside. He died the next morning at 5:30.

“Sometimes death is not as tragic as not being able to live,” he told the media Jack Benny, comedian and the last showbiz man to visit Cole in the hospital. “This nice man knew how to live – and he knew how to make others happy that they were alive,” he added.

The music industry was shocked because America’s beloved artist lost the fight he was supposed to win within half a year. His albums were bought en masse, and Capitol Records received an order for as many as one million copies. They accompanied him on his last journey Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr Whether Bobby Darin. However, Nat King Cole’s music has stood the test of time, as 1991 proved.

Nat King Cole had five children, and his daughter was a famous singer Natalie Cole. In 1991, she released an album containing 22 classical compositions “Unforgettable… with Love”, a tribute to his father’s work. Almost thirty years after the artist’s death, his music was revived, and Natalie Cole was honored with the two most important statuettes – for Best Album and Record of the Year – as well as for Best Pop Performance.

“It was an amazing, amazing time,” she said, clearly moved. “I want to thank my father for leaving me such a wonderful, wonderful record,” she continued, drowned out by the cheering audience. By 2015, the album had sold over 6.2 million copies.