June 3, 2013 – Piano C Red was born Cecil Fain in Montevallo, Ala. in 1933.
His mother sang spirituals and his father made moonshine, both endeavors playing a role in his musical career. He told the Chicago Tribune’s Mary Schmich in 2006 that he traded pints of his father’s moonshine for piano lessons from the local boogie-woogie player, Fat Lily.
By age 16 he was playing in Atlanta, Georgia as James Wheeler and later took his stage name from his instrument, the red piano, and the trademark red outfits he wore onstage.
Relocating to Chicago when he was 19 he performed with the likes of Muddy Waters, B.B King, Fats Domino and Buddy Guy, before becoming a cab driver to make the money necessary to pay the bills.
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