Charlie "Bird" Parker has been called the greatest saxophonist who ever lived, a jazz legend who not only spearheaded the bebop movement but also laid the foundations of modern jazz.
Courtesy of the William P. Gottlieb Collection Charlie Parker, the party animal, on sax
He was also a party animal.
In 1952, Los Angeles would play host to one of Parker's wildest exploits. The New York-based musician was in L.A. for some club gigs, even as his health was rapidly declining -- fat, and alternately strung out on heroin or in the throes of withdrawal, he nursed his pain with alcohol binges. He went hard until the end. When Parker died in 1955 from a bleeding ulcer and liver disease, the coroner estimated his body to be between 50 and 60 years of age. He was 34.
See also: Ten Jazz Albums to Hear Before You Die