William Thomas "Billy" Strayhorn was an American jazz composer, pianist and arranger, best known for his successful collaboration with bandleader and composer Duke Ellington lasting nearly three decades. His compositions include Take the 'A' Train, Chelsea Bridge, and Lush Life. Mercer Ellington, son of the Duke, introduced Aaron Bridgers to Strayhorn as a perspective “partner”. A year after their meeting, both Strayhorn and Bridgers moved in together. They were describe as being very affectionate toward one another. Even more importantly, those who knew them as a couple were respectful of the two men and their relationship. Bridgers moved to Paris in 1947. Strayhorn was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 1964, which eventually caused his death in 1967. Strayhorn finally succumbed in the early morning on May 31, 1967, in the company of his partner, Bill Grove. It has often been falsely reported that Strayhorn died in Lena Horne's arms. By her own account, Horne was touring in Europe when she received the news of Strayhorn's death. His ashes were scattered in the Hudson River by a gathering of his closest friends.
Together from 1937 to 1947: 10 years.
Aaron Bridgers (January 10, 1918 - November 3, 2003)
William Thomas “Sweet Pea” Strayhorn (November 29, 1915 – May 31, 1967)
Days of Love edited by Elisa Rolle
Release Date: September 21, 2014
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In 1939, Jazz great Billy Strayhorn (1915-1967) moved into a ground floor apartment in a building on 315 Convent Avenue, 10031 with his lover, jazz pianist Aaron Bridgers. Bridgers moved to Paris in 1947, but Strayhorn continued to live here until 1950. While living in this apartment, Strayhorn wrote "Take the A Train" (1941); "Lotus Blossom" (1946); "Lush Life" (1949), and most of the music for the musicals Beggars Holiday and Jump for Joy. Strayhorn died on May 31, 1967. After his funeral, as he had requested, a small group of his closest friends, including Duke Ellington, gathered at the 79th Street Boat Basin where they scattered his ashes along with handfuls of rose petals into the Hudson River. They continued to gather there on the anniversary of his death for many years to come, scattering roses into the waters and watching the currents take them away, out to sea.
Queer Places, Vol. 1 edited by Elisa Rolle
Release Date: July 24, 2016
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