Fletcher Hamilton Henderson, jr. (Cuthbert18 december 1897 - New York Citydecember 28, 1952) was an American pianistbandleaderarranger and composerwho has played an important role in the development of big band jazz and swing music.


Henderson was born in Cuthbert to Georgia. His father was a principal and his mother gave piano lessons. He went to the Atlanta University in Atlanta where he graduated in 1920 . After this, he moved to New York City to be on the Columbia University a diploma in the field of physics to catch up. But because his chances of finding a job in that area would be low, he focused on the music. He went to work for Pace-Handy for which he showcased songs. In addition, he worked at Black Swan Records as a pianist and he was sitting in the backing band of singer Ethel Waters.

In 1922 he founded his own band on which soon became known as the best colored band of New York. In the start time was his music especially aimed at those of Paul Whiteman, but when Louis Armstrong his band came in 1924 he saw more potential in it. His band was regularly enhanced by musicians such as Henry AllenJoe Smith,Rex StewartTommy LadnierDoc CheatmanRoy EldridgeColeman HawkinsBuster BaileyBenny Carter and Chu Berry. In the rhythm section was from 1928 to 1933 guitarist Clarence Holiday.

Despite the fact that his band was extremely popular, Henderson was not good to lead his band. After a serious car accident in 1928 he seemed to lose his interest in the business side and became known as undisciplined. Nevertheless, he remained an important writer. As he wrote songs for the bands of Teddy HillIsham Jones and Benny Goodman.

The collaboration with Benny Goodman for a long time went by. When Goodman in 1934 was asked to the house band of the radio program Let's Dance to be he bought a lot of songs that Henderson had written at the beginning of the 1930s. In 1939 , he left his own band to join Goodman, initially as a writer and pianist, but later only as a writer. He founded his band several times in the 1940s, and he toured between 1948and 1949 with Ethel Waters. In 1950 , he suffered a heart attack which he partly paralyzed and had to stop as a pianist. Two years later he died in New York City.

In 1989, he was posthumously inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.

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