Billy Strayhorn

Facts about Billy Strayhorn

Billy Strayhorn died at 51 years old
Birthplace: Dayton, Ohio, United States
Best known as: Composer of "Take the 'A' Train"

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Billy Strayhorn Biography

Name at birth: William Thomas Strayhorn

For three decades, Billy Strayhorn was the composing and arranging partner of jazz great Duke Ellington.

Billy Strayhorn met Duke Ellington in 1939, when Strayhorn was just 24. Ellington hired him a month later, and the two worked together until Strayhorn died in 1967. Strayhorn’s compositions alone or with Ellington include “Lush Life,” “Chelsea Bridge,” “Johnny Come Lately,” “A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing” and “Satin Doll.”

Strayhorn’s most famous composition, “Take the ‘A’ Train,” was inspired by the subway directions Ellington gave him for their first meeting at Ellington’s home in Manhattan. Strayhorn was born in Ohio but is often associated with Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he spent a larger part of his childhood.

Extra credit

Billy Strayhorn’s name is sometimes misspelled as Strayhorne.


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