Freddie Green's Nickname of "Pepperhead"
After joining the Basie band, Freddie Green acquired the nickname "Pepperhead." It is not known who gave him this nickname, though Lester Young certainly is a prime suspect as he made up names for nearly every musician he knew, "Lady Day" being his most widely known invention.
Over the years, "Pepperhead" was shortened to "Pepper" and then to "Pep." Many incorrect theories have been written regarding the origin of "Pepperhead."
In June 2006 at the ASCAP event in New York City that honored Basie alumni Freddie Green, saxophonist Frank Foster, and trumpeter Clark Terry, the great and hilarious Mr. Terry offered this plausible explanation for the name "Pepperhead":
"When Freddie would get his hair cut short, the hair on the nape of his neck would curl up into little tiny balls that looked like peppercorns. He sat in front of the trumpet section so we'd be looking at the back of his neck all night. Someone in the trumpet section started calling him 'Pepperhead' and that's how he got the nickname 'Pep'."