Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

Tymon Smith

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Footnotes: Charles Mingus

The world would have been a far more interesting place were Charles Mingus Jr, born today in 1922, still around.

One of jazz’s most formidable and influential musicians, Mingus was the composer of seminal songs such as Goodbye Pork Hat, Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting and The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady and the author of one of the best musical autobiographies, Beneath the Underdog – a stream of consciousness, fabulist account of his life, sexual exploits and thoughts about race and class in 1960s America.

Mingus was as well known for his tantrums as he was for his music – chastising audiences, destroying his bass on stage in response to heckling and fighting on stage with fellow musicians. His career was cut short by the onset of Lou Gehrig’s disease, which affected his bass playing and led to his death on January 5 1979 in Mexico, where he had travelled for treatment.

His final project, a collaborative album he was working on with Joni Mitchell, was released after his death. He was 56 years old.


Please register or log in to comment