Facts about Lester Young

Lester Young died at 49 years old
Born: August 27, 1909
Died: March 15, 1959
Best known as: The jazz saxophonist called "The Prez"

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Lester Young Biography

Lester Young’s innovative saxophone style had a large influence on other jazz greats in the mid-2oth century.

Nicknamed “The Prez,” Lester Young was particularly known for his work with the Count Basie Band during the 1930s and 1940s, and for his recordings with vocalist Billie Holiday. Young’s freewheeling style included holding the saxophone at odd angles; he often held it nearly horizontal.

Lester Young’s signature porkpie hat also was copied by generations of jazz musicians. Young and his contemporary Coleman Hawkins are often listed as the original twin towers of modern jazz saxophone.

Extra credit

Lester Young was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1944, but court-martialed for marijuana use and discharged the next year… Per Stanford’s Riverwalk Jazz series, Billie Holiday “gave Lester the nickname ‘Prez’ after President Franklin Roosevelt, the ‘greatest man around’ in Billie’s mind. Lester in turn gave Billie her famous nickname, ‘Lady Day.'”


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