Jazz: The King

The coronation took place in a Los Angeles saloon. The proprietor slipped up to the bandstand, playfully popped a tinseled paper crown on the young singer's head, and decreed: "King Cole!" The title stuck. And so, for the next quarter of a century, did Nat King Cole, right at the top as one of the most captivatingly popular crooners of all time. No one was more amazed at his enduring success than Cole himself. "My voice," he would say wonderingly, "is nothing to be proud of."

Indeed, it was more a condition than...

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