William (Count) BASIE played the piano from early childhood, taught by his mother. He graduated to studying with the Harlem jazz pianists, amongst them the legendary Fats Waller, becoming one of the early prodigies of Jazz. He achieved universal fame and counted as his contemporaries, Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington. He was the first leader of an American band to play at a Royal Command Performance in England.
He was in his seventies when I photographed him and I commented that it was difficult to believe that this spry, energetic man was so advanced in years. His reply, delivered with a grin, was, "It's the Music that keeps me young."
The following day, I presented him with copies of the photographs and he paid me an elegant compliment. "After looking at these photographs, Mr. Roberts, I can tell you - you made a count look like a king." At seventy-eight Count Basie died, leaving behind him a rich legacy of music and memory to those who met him and enjoyed his talent.