Born in Spokane, Washington, Rowles studied at Gonzaga College (now University) in Spokane, Washington. After moving to Los Angeles, he joined Lester Young’s group in 1942. Rowles also worked with Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Les Brown, Tommy Dorsey, and Tony Bennett, and as a studio musician.
In the 1950s and 1960s, he frequently played behind Billie Holiday and Peggy Lee, and in the 1980s he succeeded Paul Smith as Ella Fitzgerald’s accompanist. Rowles had first performed with Fitzgerald at the Mocambo nightclub in Hollywood, Los Angeles, in late 1956. He had appeared on several recording sessions with her in the 1960s, before joining her for nearly three years in 1981. Rowles appeared on Fitzgerald’s final collaboration with Nelson Riddle, The Best Is Yet to Come in 1982. Fitzgerald recorded Rowles and Johnny Mercer’s song “Baby, Don’t You Quit Now” on her final album, All That Jazz, released in 1989.…full bio
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