Nathaniel Adams (Nat King) Cole is born in Montgomery, Alabama.
Nat King Cole forms the King Cole Trio with guitarist Oscar Moore and bassist Wesley Prince.
The King Cole Trio records its first sides for the Decca label.
Nat King Cole’s first session for Capitol Records yields the classics “Straighten Up and Fly Right” and “Gee, Baby, Ain’t I Good to You?”.
Cole’s recording of “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66” enters the R&B chart, where it will peak at #3. Later that summer, it becomes a pop hit as well, just missing the Top Ten.
Nat King Cole Trio w/Nellie Lutcher hits #8 on the R&B chart with “For You, My Love”.
“Mona Lisa,” a ballad that Nat King Cole initially didn’t like, reaches #1 and sells 3 million copies.
Too Young (Nat “King” Cole) was a hit.
Nat King Cole records “Unforgettable,” which reaches #12. Forty years later, Natalie Cole overdubs her voice onto the original, creating a father-daughter duet that nearly charts as high.
“Send for Me,” Nat King Cole’s most overtly rock & roll-oriented number, enters Billboard’s R&B chart, which it will top for two weeks.
Nat King Cole hosts the 64th and final episode of The Nat King Cole Show, a 15-minute weekly variety show aired on NBC-TV. It ends for lack of national advertisers willing to sponsor a show hosted by a black man.
“Ramblin’ Rose” reaches #2, becoming Nat King Cole’s highest-charting pop single. It also hits #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart and #7 on the R&B chart.
Nat King Cole dies of lung cancer.
Nat King Cole is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the fifteenth annual induction dinner. Ray Charles is his presenter.