THE LAST CHORD FADES

Sir George Shearing, OBE

Pianist

13th. August 1919 to 14th. February 2011

Born in Battersea, London, Shearing was the youngest of nine children. He was born blind to working class parents: his father delivered coal and his mother cleaned trains in the evening. He started to learn piano at the age of three and began formal training at Linden Lodge School for the Blind, where he spent four years. Though offered several scholarships, Shearing opted to perform at a local pub, the Mason's Arms in Lambeth, for "25 bob a week" playing piano and accordion. He even joined an all-blind band during that time and was influenced by the albums of Teddy Wilson and Fats Waller. He made his first BBC radio appearance during this time.

In 1947, Shearing emigrated to the United States, where his harmonically complex style mixed swing, bop and modern classical influences. In 1956, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

Shearing collaborated with numerous singers including Billy Eckstine, Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee, Ernestine Anderson, Dakota Staton, Carmen McRae, Nancy Wilson and, most notably, Mel Tormé, with whom he performed frequently in the late 1980s and early 1990s at festivals, on radio and for recordings. (WIKIPEDIA)

In 1962, George received a golden retriever guide dog from Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, California. The dog's name was Leland ("Lee" for short). The two traveled together for more than a decade. George did many benefits and media interviews to raise awareness and support for the organization's free services.

Comments

THE LAST CHORD FADES — 8 Comments

  1. George, Little Stevie and Golden Lee: now THAT’S a party! 🙂

    RIP, George (I believe Lee may have a few ZILLION puppy-kisses saved up for you by now)

  2. I had the great pleasure of seeing him play solo in Carnegie Hall ’round about 1971, and he pretty much destroyed me. What an incredible talent!

    RIP, Sir Dude, you were beautiful!

  3. Thanks MP for putting the Hey Jude in. I had never heard that. Did he do a whole album of Beatles arrangements?

    Lee came from just across the San Rafael Bridge, just about 15 miles from Berkeley.

  4. What a jolt that gave me. Thanks so much, I loved his playing in the 60s had forgotten him in recent years. Hey Jude never sounded so good.
    Thanks MP
    May he rest in peace.

  5. Did he do a whole album of Beatles arrangements?

    Not that I am aware of, Susie Sue. This track came from the 1971 album (still available), “Out Of This World,” the first release on his own “Sheba” record label. It also contains his interpretation (in similar style) of “Here There And Everywhere.” It is one of my favourite albums by George.My favourite is “Music To Hear,” released in 1972 on Sheba and now available on the Koch label.