William Hughes, Count Basie Orchestra Trombonist, dies at 87

Bill Hughes TromboneWILLIAM H. (Bill) HUGHES, 87, on Jan. 14, on Staten Island. Born in Dallas, Texas, he later moved with his family to Washington, D.C. and was studying to be a pharmacist when, in 1953, he was recruited into the Count Basie Orchestra. He came from a musical family and followed his father by playing trombone. He credited his wife of 65 years for encouraging him to make a go of it in music rather than pursue a safer avenue. “It hasn’t made me a millionaire,” he said “but it’s certainly had it’s rewards.”

Those awards included seeing the world as he traveled for 57 years with the Count Basie Orchestra before retiring in 2010. Over that time he performed and recorded with a Who’s Who of legendary vocalists including Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis Jr., Sarah Vaughan, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Williams, Bill Eckstine, and Tony Bennett.

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