Charlie Christian

Charles Henry Christian (July 29, 1916 March 2, 1942) was an American swing and jazz guitarist.

Charlie Christian
Christian performing at the Waldorf Astoria New York, October 1939
Background information
Birth nameCharles Henry Christian
Born(1916-07-29)July 29, 1916
Bonham, Texas, U.S.
DiedMarch 2, 1942(1942-03-02) (aged 25)
Staten Island, New York
GenresJazz, swing
Associated actsBenny Goodman

Christian was an important early performer on the electric guitar and a key figure in the development of bebop and cool jazz. He gained national exposure as a member of the Benny Goodman Sextet and Orchestra from August 1939 to June 1941. His single-string technique, combined with amplification, helped bring the guitar out of the rhythm section and into the forefront as a solo instrument. For this, he is often credited with leading to the development of the lead guitar role in musical ensembles and bands. John Hammond[1] and George T. Simon[2] called Christian the best improvisational talent of the swing era. In the liner notes to the album Solo Flight: The Genius of Charlie Christian (Columbia, 1972), Gene Lees wrote that "Many critics and musicians consider that Christian was one of the founding fathers of bebop, or if not that, at least a precursor to it."[3]

Christian's influence reached beyond jazz and swing. In 1990, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the category Early Influence.

In 2006 Oklahoma City renamed a street in its Bricktown entertainment district "Charlie Christian Avenue" (Christian was raised in Oklahoma City and was one of many musicians who jammed along the city's "Deep Deuce" section on N.E. Second Street).