February 23, 2008


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Cleveland Eaton Inducted into Alabama Music Hall of Fame

Jazz bassist Cleveland Eaton was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Montgomery, Alabama on Feb. 22, 2008, an honor that he described as "the icing on the cake."

Eaton, 68, is a veteran of the Count Basie Orchestra, the Ramsey Lewis Trio, and countless sessions and tours with other artists. He is also known as a producer, arranger, composer, publisher, and head of his own Birmingham-based record company. Born in Fairfield, Alabama, he now lives in Birmingham and performs with his group, Cleve Eaton and the Alabama All Stars.

"I've gotten a lot of awards and a whole lot of things, but as my wife said, this is the icing on the cake here," Eaton said at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony and awards banquet at the Convention Center in Montgomery. He delighted the black-tie crowd with a solo bass rendition of a song he picked for the occasion, Duke Ellington's "I'm Just a Lucky So-And-So."

Earlier, in an interview with the Birmingham News, Eaton spoke of his pride at being honored in his home state.

Eaton began playing piano at age five, took up the bass at fifteen, and after earning a degree in music from Tennessee A and I State University, he embarked on a career that has spanned more than four decades. He was nicknamed "The Count's Bassist" during his 16-year stint with the Basie band. He joined Lewis in the 1960s and appeared on 30 of the band's recordings, including hits like "Hang On Sloopy" and "Wade in the Water."

Eaton has accompanied scores of other performers, including Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Minnie Riperton, Bunky Green, the Ike Cole Trio, and the Donald Byrd-Pepper Adams Quintet. His own recording of "Bama Boogie Woogie" became a major hit in Europe and Australia.

Eaton is the only jazz musician in this year's group of inductees to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. His other honors include: the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, Playboy Jazz Poll, Canada's Cultural Enhancement Award, and the Don Redman Lifetime Achievement Award.

For more information about Cleveland Eaton, visit http://www.clevelandeaton.com.