LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Jazz pianist
Charles Thomas, who shunned the
spotlight of touring with Duke Ellington's
band to play in his homestate of
Arkansas, died Tuesday of prostate cancer.
He was 64.
During his career, Thomas headlined numerous
jazz festivals and accompanied
vocalists such as Tony Bennett. After
Ellington's death, the band leader's
orchestra asked Thomas to take his place
on the piano.
But Thomas's tour with the Duke Ellington
Orchestra didn't last long. Thomas
``got tired of being Duke Ellington -
he wanted to be Charlie Thomas,'' said
his longtime manager, Jim Porter.
Thomas returned to Arkansas and played
at venues such as the Black Orchid in
Hot Springs during the 1960s.