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Famous South Carolinians | Frederick “Freddie” William Green | By Kevin Alexander Gray

Green: “Rhythm guitar is like vanilla extract in cake.  You can’t taste it when it’s there, but you know when it’s left out.”

Master musician- Rhthym guitar

March 31, 1911-March 1, 1987

Frederick William Green, born in Charleston, SC, was the son of Oscar and Eloise Simmons Green.  He was exposed to music at an early age.  He learned the banjo before picking up the guitar around the age of 12.  Other than a few music lessons taken as a youngster, he taught himself to play guitar.

Green is most known for his 50-year career (except for a brief interruption) as rhythm guitarist with the William “Count” Basie Orchestra. 

Sam Walker, a friend of Green’s father, first taught young Green how to read music, and encouraged him to keep up his guitar playing.  Walker gave Green what was perhaps his first gig, playing with a local community group – the Jenkins Orphanage Band – with whom Walker was an organizer. The band was a place for poor children to get musical training.  It was also a marching band. The band often traveled into Green’s neighborhood, and he would follow them all around the city. Although not an orphan himself, he became a band member – playing in Charleston, as well as inside and outside the state. Coincidentally, an orphaned friend of his in the group was young William “Cat” Anderson who went on to become an established trumpeter, working with notable figures such as Duke Ellington.

Green credited the musical influences of his youth to the music that he heard coming from New York into Charleston.  But he added: “As far as music is concerned, Charleston has always been musical.” Continue reading

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Filed under Famous South Carolinians, Music History, South Carolina