October 30th, 1930 in Wilmington, Delaware
June 26th, 1956
Short Career, Immeasurable Impact
In 1953, Max Roach, who was considered one of the premier bebop drummers, asked Brown to join his band. The two began a legendary partnership that produced the albums Clifford Brown and Max Roach (1955), and Study In Brown (1955), among others. In 1954, Brown performed with Sarah Vaughan on Sarah Vaughan. After his death, the album was re-issued as Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown.
Brown’s phenomenal playing, as well as his straight and narrow lifestyle, earned him celebrity in the jazz world at a very young age. His sobriety was uncommon in jazz at the time, and his focus and discipline presented a contrast from the sort of drug-fueled life that the iconic Charlie Parker espoused.
On June 26th, 1956, Brown was on his way to Chicago from Philadelphia for a gig with Roach. He was accompanied by Richie Powell, the pianist in the group, and Powell’s wife Nancy drove them. In the early morning hours, she lost control of the car, and all three were killed.
Although Brown’s career was cut so tragically short, he created a significant recorded output, and as a result, he continues to influence jazz musicians today.