The first Grammy Awards were in 1959, and one of the big winners was Red Bank native William “Count” Basie, who won in the Group Jazz Performance and Dance Band Performance categories for his album, Basie (also known as The Atomic Mr. Basie or E=MC2). The first track on the album is the fast, playful “The Kid From Red Bank,” co-written by Basie and Neal Hefti.
Some of Basie’s first experiences playing piano in public was when he accompanied movies at Red Bank’s Palace Theatre. He died in April 1984, and later that year, the town’s Monmouth Arts Center (originally the Carlton Theatre) was renamed the Count Basie Theatre in his honor.
Basie won nine Grammys over the course of his career, as well as the Grammys’ Lifetime Achievement Award.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both.
To see the entire list, click here.