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  1. #1
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    Default Charlie Parker's Relatives

    What happened to Charlie Parker's relatives? Here's what I've been able to piece together rather quickly. Can you help fill in the blanks?

    Mother - Addie Parker - Born 1891, died 1967

    Father - Charles Parker, Sr. - This site says he died of a stabbing in 1940

    First Wife - Rebecca (Ruffin) Parker Davis - She was said to be 4 years older than Charlie, which would mean she was born about 1916 [edit: the Ebony article says she and Charlie were the same age]. I can't find a reference to her having died. This Ebony article from 1989 is based in part on an interview with her, contains a contemporaneous photo (on page 130), and says she was then a retired dress designer living in a suburb of Los Angeles. [Edit: if she is still alive and was born the same year as Charlie (1920), she would turn 90 sometime this year.]

    Second Wife - Geraldine (Scott) Parker - The Ebony article above says she died in the early 1980s.

    Third Wife - Doris (Sydnor) Parker - Died January 2000 at age 77 in Manhattan

    Fourth Wife - Chan (Richardson) Parker - Died 9/9/1999 at age 74 in France.

    Leon F. Parker, son by Rebecca - Died in 2004 at age 66 in Colorado. The brief obit notes that he was survived by three children, four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. [Edit: I just realized the list of survivors doesn't include Rebecca, which implies that she had already died.]

    Kim Parker, step-daughter and possibly adopted daughter (daughter of Chan's) - Born 1946, evidently still alive

    Pree Parker, daughter by Chan - Born 1951, died in 1953

    Baird Parker, son by Chan - Born 1952, evidently still alive and residing in Pennsylvania.

    There's a picture here of each of Charlie's four wives and his mother. It also says Parker died broke and four years later his estate was worth $100,000 (about $750,000 in current dollars). Sound fishy to anyone other than me?

  2. #2
    Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and 2014 Forum Contributor maddenma's Avatar
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    Default Re: Charlie Parker's Relatives

    Fascinating.
    1926 Buescher True Tone Series III Gold Plated Soprano -- Morgan Vintage 6
    1936 Buescher Custom Built Bare Brass Baritone -- Strathon 8*
    1938 Buescher Aristocrat "Custom Built" Gold Plated Baritone -- Strathon 8*
    1939 Buescher Aristocrat Silver Plated Series I Alto -- Ishimori Traditional Jazz 7, TW Durga 8
    1947 Buescher 400 B-11 "Top Hat & Cane" Bare Brass Tenor -- TW Durga 8
    1949 Buescher Aristocrat "Big B" Lacquer Alto -- Ishimori Traditional Jazz 7
    1949 Buescher Aristocrat Gold Plated "Big B" Tenor -- TW Durga 8
    1980-something Yamaha YBS-61 Baritone -- Strathon 8*



    Nothing works so well in gathering information as a display of ignorance. I've been learning a lot lately.


  3. #3

    Default Re: Charlie Parker's Relatives

    Sometime back in the 90s, Kim Parker appeared at the "Charlie Parker Jazz Festival" in the East Village in NYC, at the corner of Tompkins Sq Park, near where Parker lived with Chan, in the early 50s.

    I remember her giving some kind of rambling speech, about living there at the time & "her father", Bird, walking her in the park, etc., etc.

    I think the person that would know the answers to you questions is Phil Schapp, the jazz historian & DJ, here in NYC, of Columbia University's radio station, WKCR. He has a 1 hr show, every morning, featuring the music of Parker & his analysis & anecdotes.

    Also, an artist/icon can "die broke", then make much more money dead than he did alive.
    Not too strange, really more like the norm.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Charlie Parker's Relatives

    Quote Originally Posted by Black Obelisk View Post
    ... "her father", Bird, ....
    Some sources indicate Bird adopted Kim, which, if true, would make the quotes superfluous.

    Quote Originally Posted by Black Obelisk View Post
    ...
    Also, an artist/icon can "die broke", then make much more money dead than he did alive.
    Not too strange, really more like the norm.
    Yeah, I guess, but when a large amount of value materializes in such a short time it makes me wonder if it was previously existing but hidden (from Bird).

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    Default Re: Charlie Parker's Relatives

    Quote Originally Posted by Rackety Sax View Post
    Some sources indicate Bird adopted Kim, which, if true, would make the quotes superfluous.
    I am going to draw exception with this. People like plants are influenced by both their genetics and their environment. How you could call some whom was raised or at least regularly interacted with Charlie Parker superfluous, comes across as ignorant.

    So Now I expect you to demonstrate your statement wasn't ignorant or withdraw it.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Charlie Parker's Relatives

    Quote Originally Posted by FremontSax View Post
    I am going to draw exception with this. People like plants are influenced by both their genetics and their environment. How you could call some whom was raised or at least regularly interacted with Charlie Parker superfluous, comes across as ignorant.

    So Now I expect you to demonstrate your statement wasn't ignorant or withdraw it.
    I must not have been clear. I took the quotes to suggest that Bird wasn't really her father. When I said his adoption of her would make the quotes superfluous, I meant that it would mean he was her bona fide father, regardless of biology. Actually, as far as I'm concerned, regardless of adoption, if they saw each other as father/daughter that's good enough for me. There's a nice story from Chan recounted here that very much indicates that they did.

    There is a wonderful story she [Chan] tells in the Jan Horne video 'The Bird', when discussing her daughter Kim. The story goes that Kim would get sick each morning when it came time for school and Chan thought that it might have been because her mother was a white woman living with a black man and the strain that placed on her. When she asked Kim about the sickness and whether it was because she came from a mixed family. Kim replied, "No. The first time that she got over it was when Bird took her by the hand and walked her to school, because I (Chan) never used to do that. So actually, he was a better father than I was a mother, and she adored him. I suppose a child doesn't see colour." One of Charlie's most innovative and creative numbers was 'Kim', which expressed all the value and brightness of a young child he obviously loved even though he was not her natural father.
    There's a nice interview of Kim from 2005 here where she talks quite a bit about Bird.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Charlie Parker's Relatives

    I think that was the story she (Kim P) talked about, at that concert. It was more the "how" she told it, and not the story itself. That is a very nice story & it took you a whole paragraph to say, not, like, 10 minutes of rambling. She came off as a bit flaky, but, hey, just like not everyone is Bird, everyone is not a Bill Clinton, when it comes to speaking in public.
    I suppose I was younger, less patient, and wanted to hear the next band, asap, sorry Kim.

    Also, not that it matters, really, but, since Bird & Chan were never legally married...COULD he legally have adopted Kim?
    Sorry for the qoutes.
    Again, all good questions, for Mr. Phil Schapp.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Charlie Parker's Relatives

    Thanks Rackety, If I misunderstood you. That story is priceless.

  9. #9
    Forum Contributor 2011 Bob M's Avatar
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    Default Re: Charlie Parker's Relatives

    Also, not mentioned above is the fact that sometime after Bird's death, Chan married Phil Woods. So, Woods is stepfather to Kim and Baird.
    "You must not abandon the ship in a storm because you cannot control the winds... What you cannot turn to good, you must at least make as little bad as you can."

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Charlie Parker's Relatives

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob M View Post
    Also, not mentioned above is the fact that sometime after Bird's death, Chan married Phil Woods. So, Woods is stepfather to Kim and Baird.
    Yeah, Phil tell's a funny story about Bird's Silversonic here...

    Woods played the horn long ago during the early days of his marriage with Chan. The story has been told often, but he shared it once more.

    “I had no money, so I hocked my Selmar [sic] to buy groceries,” he remembered. But as he walked into their apartment, his arms laden with food, the phone rang. It was the manager of the Five Spot and he wanted Woods for a gig. “I told Chan, `I’m gonna have to play the King.’ I didn’t have my horn!

    “… So there I am, playing, when wouldn’t you know it, Charlie Mingus walks in. He recognized the horn right away. He looked at me, gave me a look of disdain. Oh man! It was like `Who do you think you are?’

    “I told him, `Look man, I’m just trying to feed the family.’”

  11. #11
    Distinguished SOTW Member BarrySachs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Charlie Parker's Relatives

    I met Doris Parker a couple of times. The last time I saw her was at Tavern on the Green in NYC for Al Grey's 70th birthday in 1995. I also met Buddy Tate that night. Anyway, the old-timers used to call Doris "Olive Oil", not to her face of course.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Charlie Parker's Relatives

    Bird has a slightly older half brother, John "Ikey" Parker, son of Charles Sr. and a woman other than Addie. I have no idea what happened to him.

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    Default Charlie Parker's Saxophones

    While we are at it, it might be fun to try to collect what happened to various of Bird's saxophones.

    1) Grafton, serial number 10265. Saxpics has some background on the Grafton in general and Charlie's in particular, which is most famous for its use at the Massey Hall concert in 1953. It was purchased at auction in 1994 for about $144,000 in 1994 by the city of Kansas City and is on display at the American Jazz Museum in that city. The youtube clip of Peter King demonstrating the horn has been posted on the forum before, but here it is again for anyone who missed it:

    Sorry, unable to display

    2) Buescher New Aristocrat - This one's been discussed on the forum before, the Buescher New Aristocrat that the PBS series the The History Detectives did a story on. Jennfier Hood presumably still owns this one. The only thing that's not clear from the story is how strong the connection to Parker is. Did he really own this, or was it a horn he "borrowed" from someone and pawned as evidently happened more than once. During the period (1953) of this story his main horn was...

    3) King Super 20, SN 295173 - Sold at auction for $225,000 in 2005. The identity of the buyer was evidently not disclosed. Picture here.

    There must be more (Selmer? Conn 6M?) but that's all I've been able to find.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Charlie Parker's Childhood Homes

    And while we are at it, Charlie Parker's childhood homes... Two of the four were still standing as of 2005: http://jazzportraits.blogspot.com/20...hood-home.html

    Complete copy of article here.

    You can look up the addresses on google maps (they both appear to be in Kansas City, Mo) and see photos of the residences.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Charlie Parker's Relatives

    Quote Originally Posted by Rackety Sax View Post
    Baird Parker, son by Chan - Born 1952, evidently still alive and residing in Pennsylvania.
    That name's a kick.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Charlie Parker's Relatives: Kim sings tonight in PA

    Kim Parker will be singing tonight (May 17, 2013) at the Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap, PA.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Charlie Parker's Childhood Homes

    Quote Originally Posted by Rackety Sax View Post

    You can look up the addresses on google maps (they both appear to be in Kansas City, Mo) and see photos of the residences.
    I thought he grew up in KC, KS... or maybe that's just where he was born?

  18. #18

    Default Re: Charlie Parker's Relatives

    Im not sure i get the point of this thread. He was a great player. I hope is relatives are well. tough act to follow if your a child i suppose.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Charlie Parker's Relatives

    Quote Originally Posted by MEGAOHMER View Post
    Im not sure i get the point of this thread. He was a great player. I hope is relatives are well. tough act to follow if your a child i suppose.
    Child?!?
    Hey man tough act to follow if you're Phil Woods or any other sax player, for that matter...

    The way I see it, Bird was a lot like the Bambino, Babe Ruth. They put an asterisk by Barry Bonds' and some other modern guys' record stats... *used performance-enhancing substances...
    I figure Ruth, and Bird for that matter, for all their undeniable and incredible contributions to their respective fields, ought to get even more praise in the form of, say, a double asterisk... **achieved greatness despite the use of performance-decreasing substances...

  20. #20

    Default Re: Charlie Parker's Saxophones

    Quote Originally Posted by Rackety Sax View Post





    3) King Super 20, SN 295173 - Sold at auction for $225,000 in 2005. The identity of the buyer was evidently not disclosed. Picture here.
    .
    Somebody else must have played the King also. It's pictured with a Selmer mouthpiece.

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