2001 Inductees

Claude Dorsey

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Claude Dorsey, a Milwaukee jazz legend, gave a lifetime of music to the city. 

His longevity was notable, though less so than his contributions to Milwaukee’s music scene.

Dorsey, a pianist and vocalist, moved to Milwaukee as a teenager. He developed his style from the influence of the great pianists and bandleaders of the 1930s and 40s. He worked Milwaukee’s clubs tirelessly and performed across the Midwest with his band at the height of his career. He backed Billie Holiday for several dates. 

For 40 years, he entertained diners as the house pianist at the Clock Steak House.

Claude's musical training started in church. He began playing the piano at the age 3 and by age 12, he was playing professionally. 

Claude met or performed with an impressive list of legendary artists through the years, which included Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Bob Hope, Louie Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Liberace and Tony Bennett.

Claude recorded his first CD, "Claude Dorsey: What a Wonderful World," at age 89.

He passed away in 2010 at age 96.