Duke Ellington

Probably the best-known jazz personality during his lifetime, Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was often referred to as "the most significant composer of the genre". His big band was in continuous operation from its beginning in 1923 to his death in 1974. His theme song, "Take The A Train", was played by musicians around the world. He brought an erudite sophistication to jazz, appealing to a whole generation of educated city dwellers and up-and-coming students eager to buy records and go to clubs. Duke Ellington entered the DownBeat Hall of Fame in 1956.