Dizzy Gillespie Memorial and Statue | Olde English District

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Dizzy Gillespie Memorial and Statue

321 Market St.
Cheraw, SC 29520
(888) 537-0014

Jazz king Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993) virtuoso trumpeter, composer and founder of modern jazz is now playing a long term gig in his hometown of Cheraw. A seven foot bronze statue of Gillespie-cheeks bulged to play his trademark bent horn-was unveiled in October 2002 on the 85th anniversary of his birth on the Town Green. Born John Birks Gillespie, Dizzy attended the public schools in Cheraw and graduated from Robert Smalls School in 1933. It was in Cheraw that Dizzy first played in a band and first performed in public. Because of his musical talents, he received a scholarship to the Laurinburg Institute in North Carolina. Dizzy and his family attended Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church (c. 1915) on Greene Street. As a child, Dizzy was fascinated by the movies. He became so adept at sneaking in to see the shows that the theater manager gave him the job of keeping the other kids from doing the same. His pay was that he got to see the movies for free. The theater, built in 1920, was then called the Lyric Theater. Recently renovated, it is now known as The Theater on the Green and is used for live performances. The statue was designed by internationally known artist Ed Dwight. Cheraw also celebrates Dizzy's life with the South Carolina Jazz Festival the third weekend in October. For more information or a free self guide to Dizzy Gillespie-related sites, contact the Cheraw Office of Tourism.