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Rapp on Jazz: Freddie 'Pepper' Green

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Singer and guitarist Freddie 'Pepper' Green was born in Charleston, SC in 1911.

After his father died when Green was 12-years-old, he went to live with his aunt in New York City. Already a skilled banjo player, he taught himself to play rhythm guitar in his new home.

Green began gigging professionally while still a teen, when producer John Hammond arranged for an audition for County Basie. Beginning in 1937, Green spent 50 years playing with Basie.

There are many theories about how he earned the nickname "Pepper," but regardless of its origin, it's apt — his soft, spicy guitar became Count Basie's Orchestra's metronome.

Famed producer and artist Quincy Jones once said of Green, "That man is a sort of spirit. He doesn't talk loud and he doesn't play loud, but man, you sure know he's there!"

Green also played for singer Billie Holiday on some of her more memorable recordings, including "A Sailboat in the Moonlight" and "This Year's Kisses."

This has been Rapp on Jazz, a co-production of the ColaJazz Foundation and SC Public Radio. Support for this program is made possible in part by Fox Music House of Columbia and Charleston.