Charles Mingus, bassist, composer and bandleader, was one of the towering figures of American twentieth-century music. In this acclaimed memoir, Mingus documents his childhood on an Army base in Arizona, his difficult teenage years in Watts and his musical education from the likes of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker. In a unique and lyrical voice, his story charts the highs and lows of a life lived to the full.
Beneath the Underdog is also a portrait of life in the forties and fifties, and of ideas of identity and race in America. Above all, it is a powerful tale told through the eyes of an inspiring, anguished and extraordinary musician.
Charles Mingus was born in Arizona in 1922. He settled in New York in the 1950s, where he played and recorded with the leading musicians of his time, such as Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Art Tatum and Duke Ellington. Mingus toured extensively throughout the world, including Europe, Japan, Canada, South America and the United States. He died in 1979. Both New York City and Washington, D.C., honoured him posthumously with a 'Charles Mingus Day'.