Earl Washington (musician)
Earl "The Ghost" Washington (April 3, 1921, Chicago, Illinois – June 18, 1975) was a jazz pianist.
Washington grew up with his brothers and sisters, in the small community of Morgan Park, on Chicago’s far southwest side. He graduated from Morgan Park High School, as did his siblings. As a one-hundred and forty pound 14-year-old teen, Washington captured a Chicago Boxing Golden Glove Title.
Also as a teen, in high school, Washington wanted to play jazz on the piano. But his mother, Nettie Graham, made him take private classical lessons with the family music teacher, Dr. Walter Dellers, Professor of Music at the Chicago Academy of Music. Deller advised Nettie not to change his hand coordination that was so envied by most jazz musicians of the era. After high school Washington attended the Chicago and Boston conservatories of music earning both a Bachelor of Arts and Masters Degree.
World War II was declared and Washington serviced in the United States Navy, a rank Seaman II. He joined the Chicago Musicians' Union Local 10-208 after his time in the military ended on November 15, 1945.
Washington joined Red Saunders' Band in 1947 at the popular nightclub Club DeLisa, where he remained until the early 1950s. On leaving Saunder's band, Washington worked in the recording studios of Chicago, Detroit and New York City. He wrote music for Motown artists and recorded scores and jingles (television/radio theme songs) with Chicago’s jazz pioneer/innovator Quincy Jones and nationally known Chicago disc jockey Herb Kent on Chicago's WVON Radio.
While representing the Motown jazz imprint and releasing a couple LPs, on its sub-label Workshop Jazz Motown, Washington worked as a featured artist at Chicago's Blue Note Club, the Gaslight Club and the Playboy Club.
Before his death, Washington worked at the The Inn Place, taught private jazz-piano lessons and lectured on "The History of Jazz" at Indiana University.
Washington's nickname, "The Ghost," stuck when an out-of-town musician sat in on a session with the Red Saunders Band at the Club DeLisa and asked, "Who's that Cat in the corner playing the piano?"—"He look just like a ghost!"—because Washington's light-skin complexion seem to glowed in the part of the stage where the band performed.
He was married to Dorothy Jean Washington for 20 years before his death on June 18, 1975. Together they raised six sons.