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On October 211917John Birks Gillespie was born in CherawSouth CarolinaHe was the youngest of 14 childernHis father was a poor farmer and a skilled amateur musicianHe played bass in his own band and owned all the instruments because most of the other players were so poor that they would sell the instruments for money to buy food if they had themThe town of Cheraw was primarily black town and was very poorBy the time John was 7he was beginning to learn that noone would take care of himand that the world was harshJohn looked back on his father as a disciplinarianothers just reguarded him as meanHe would come home and beat his children every week forwhat they mustve done while he was goneAs a childJohn became fascinated with misic and played trombone in his bandOne day his neighbor got a trumpet for christmasHe begged to try it when it wasnt in useWhen he was 17he had earned enough money from his job that he could move 50 miles north and live in a school dorm while he got an eaducationHe missed his familyand was having a hard timeHe had to be in a club similar to 4h to pay tuitionHe hated itHe was anxious to leave the school and make a living on his ownWhen his sister got marriedhe heard that her husband was moving them to New York cityHe went with them to find a jobHis brother Wesley soon moved there as wellso he and John lived in the same apartmentThey shared expensesbut rarely saw each otherWesleys schedule was a normal onebut Johns often had him staggering home at 550 AMHe was always searching for a permanent jobbut all he could find were temp and fill-in jobswhich payed very littleMeanwhilehe was barely getting by Since he was a childhis idol was a trumpet player named Roy EldridgeJohn was thrilled to meet and finally replace him in the Cab Calloway bandHe played 3rd trumpetbut was
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