Freddie Green 1911-1987

by Jim Ferguson

Source: Guitar Player Magazine, June 1987

Freddie Green's passing on March 2, 1987, in Las Vegas closed one of the longest and most illustrious chapters in jazz history. The heartbeat of the Count Basie Band for a half century (he joined the organization in 1937), he was admired for his peerless rhythm work on an acoustic archtop (he generally eschewed solos, preferring to work in a supportative capacity). Born on March 31, 1911, Green essentially taught himself to play guitar. He moved to New York City at 12, and eventually worked clubs in Harlem and Greenwich Village before joining Basie when he was 26. In addition to the Count Basie Band and various small groups led by the Count, he recorded with clarinetist Benny Goodman, vibraphonist Lionel Hampton, clarinetist Pee Wee Russell, and a host of other top-flight jazzmen. Look for a special tribute to Green in our August 1987 issue.

Note: The article included a photo of Freddie playing with Count Basie standing in the background. The photo caption reads: "Onstage with Count Basie: In recent years Green played a custom Gretsch archtop." The photo clearly shows the unusual angle of Freddie's guitar when he played. The top of his guitar was 30 degrees up from horizontal.

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