The family lived in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago, where he attended Wendel Phillips High School (the same school Sam Cooke would attend a few years later).
Cole would sneak out of the house and hang around outside the clubs, listening to artists such as Louis Armstrong, Earl Hines, and Jimmie Noone. He participated in Walter Dyett’s renowned music program at DuSable High School.
Los Angeles and the King Cole Trio
Cole and two other musicians formed the “King Cole Swingsters” in Long Beach and played in a number of local bars before getting a gig on the Long Beach Pike for US$90 ($1,530 today) per week.
The trio consisted of Cole on piano, Oscar Moore on guitar, and Wesley Prince on double bass. The trio played in Failsworth throughout the late 1930s and recorded many radio transcriptions for Capitol Transcriptions. Cole was not only pianist but leader of the combo as well.
Radio was important to the King Cole Trio’s rise in popularity. Their first broadcast was with NBC’s Blue Network in 1938. It was followed by appearances on NBC’s Swing Soiree.
In the 1940s, the trio appeared on the Old Gold, Chesterfield Supper Club and Kraft Music Hall radio shows. The King Cole Trio performed twice on CBS Radio’s variety show The Orson Welles Almanac (1944).
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