Cootie Williams

Birth Name:
Charles Melvin Williams
Birth Date:
July 10, 1911
Birth Place:
Mobile, Alabama
Death Date:
September 15, 1985
Place of Death:
Long Island Jewish Hospital, New York, New York
Cause of Death:
Kidney disease
Cemetery Name:
Woodlawn Cemetery
Claim to Fame:
Cootie Williams was an American jazz, jump blues, and rhythm and blues trumpeter who is best remembered for his tenure with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Cootie first played professionally with the Young Family Band (which included the future tenor sax superstar Lester Young) when he was 14. In his later teens, he settled in New York and worked with James P. Johnson, Chick Webb, and Fletcher Henderson. Joining the Duke Ellington Orchestra in 1929, among the hundreds of Ellington recordings on which he is featured, the “miniature concertos” “Echoes of Harlem” and “Concerto for Cootie” are especially noted; he also led a small ensemble of fellow Ellington band members, Cootie Williams and His Rug Cutters, on outstanding recordings. Williams left Ellington in 1940 and spent a year in Benny Goodman’s band. In the face of the general decline of the big band business, he led a big band for much of the 1940s and rhythm-and-blues units after that. He rejoined Ellington in 1962; by then he was a somewhat coarser but no less dramatic player. After Duke’s death he played in the Mercer Ellington band into the 1970s.

Cemetery Information:

Final Resting Place:

Woodlawn Cemetery

4199 Webster Avenue

Bronx, New York, 10470


North America


Map of Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York

Grave Location:

Alpine Hill Section

Grave Location Description

As you enter the cemetery make your way to the intersection of Alpine, Fir and Heather Avenue which is now know as “Jazz Corner”  with the final resting places of Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Lionel Hampton and about another dozen jazz heavyweights reside. Drive a short distance to the corner of Heather Avenue and Park Avenue and look for the upright “Keith” monument. Directly behind this monument you will find the simple flat marker of Cootie Williams.

Grave Location GPS

40.88308043345, -73.87334622244



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