1. The young Charlie Parker practiced his saxophone so much that a neighbor once asked his mother to move away so they could get some peace and quiet. In an interview, he confessed that he practiced more than 11 hours a day during those years.
2. He earned the nickname “Yardbird” because of his profuse love of chicken. Chickens are frequently referred to as yardbirds in the south.
3. When he was sixteen-years-old, Jo Jones, the drummer for Count Basie’s Orchestra, once threw a cymbal at him after he attempted to play a double-timed saxophone solo. The entire club laughed hysterically at Parker, leading him to set his saxophone down for the following three months.
4. He quit school when he was fourteen-years-old. Two years later, at the age of sixteen, he married Rebecca Ruffin. It was the first of his four marriages.
5. The most popular 50s era New York jazz club was named, “Birdland,” after the “Bird” himself. Parker played a gig there on its opening night in 1949.
6. Parker was an unrivaled eater who was known to chow down twenty hamburgers in a row and drink sixteen double whiskeys all within a few hours.
7. Charlie Parker’s real name was Charles Christopher Parker Jr.
8. After learning that he would die from cirrhosis of the liver if he continued consuming alcohol, Parker was banned from all New York City nightclubs for a period of fifteen months.
9. While recuperating in a mental hospital following a bout with substance abuse, Parker was cared for by a doctor who happened to be a fan. This doctor solemnly described Parker as, “A man living from moment to moment. A man living for the pleasure principle, music, food, sex, drugs, [and] kicks …” Despite Parker’s shortcomings, his doctor believed that he could turn his life around.
10. After his untimely death at the age of thirty-four, graffiti could be found throughout the streets of New York City. Every piece of street art unanimously proclaimed, “Bird Lives!”