Instruments: Bass

Date of Birth: 1939

Place of Birth: Fairfield, Alabama

2008 Inductee Alabama Music Hall of Fame

Cleveland Josephus Eaton II was raised with an intense comprehensive musical background. He was playing his mother's piano at the age of 5, and turned his efforts toward the saxophone by the time he was 8. Eaton took up the trumpet two years later and when he reached the age of 15, music teacher John Springer introduced him to the tuba and string bass.

Eaton played in a jazz group in college at Tennessee A&I State University, where he earned his bachelor's degree in music, then moved to Chicago and toured with the Ike Cole Trio. He later performed memorable concert tours with top notch jazz bands led by Larry Novak, Ramsey Lewis and the legendary Count Basie.

Over the years, Cleveland Eaton became a consummate bassist, producer, composer, publisher, arranger and head of his own Birmingham based record company. As a recording artist, Eaton's version of "Bama Boogie Woogie" became a phenomenal best seller in the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, France and Australia.

Eaton's numerous honors include his induction to the Jazz Hall of Fame in Birmingham, Induction into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, the Playboy Jazz Poll, Canada's Cultural Enhancement Award and the Achievement Award at the Count Basie Tribute Concert.

Cleve Eaton is a recognized name in the jazz world, as a producer, composer, arranger and for his incredible performances with the Ike Cole Trio, Donald Byrd - Peppe Adams Quintet, the Larry Novak Trio and over 30 recordings in the 10 years with the Ramsey Lewis Trio, which included 4 gold singles, such as "Hang On Sloopy" and "Wade In The Water". There were 4 gold albums, including Solar Wind and Sun Goddess. Cleve has been on notable recording sessions with nearly all genres - jazz with John Klemmer and Bunky Green, R&B with the Dells and Bobby Rush, Pop with Minnie Riperton, Jerry Butler and Rotary Connection, Big Band with Henry Mancini, Frank Sinatra, Joe Williams, Billy Eckstein, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald and many more. Cleve was dubbed the Count's Bassist during his 16 year stint and over 30 recordings with the Count Basie Orchestra. Since 1985, Clever has performed and toured with his own group, Cleve Eaton and Co.

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame

Legendary jazz bassist Cleveland Eaton was born in 1940 in Birmingham, AL. He began the study of music when he was only five years old. Ten years later he had mastered the piano, trumpet, and saxophone. When a teacher allowed him to take a bass home for practice, Eaton spent nearly every waking hour learning the instrument. He became what many call one of the best jazz bassists in the business. He has also made a name for himself as a composer, producer, and arranger. Some people are born with natural talent, and maybe Eaton had more than his reasonable share, but nothing was handed to him. He worked hard, long hours, keeping his dreams clearly in his line of vision. The hard work paid off early, and before he completed the ninth grade in high school, the young musician was earning significant enough paychecks to afford a brand new car.

In time, Eaton left his birthplace behind and moved to Chicago, IL. He kept working relentlessly, to the point of performing with over a dozen bands in one single day. He soon began recording with the Ramsey Lewis Trio. During a decade of service, Eaton performed on 30 recordings with the trio. Four of those albums went gold, and so did just as many singles, including "Wade in the Water" and "Hang on Sloopy." In 1979, Eaton was inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame. The same year, he became a member of the Count Basie Orchestra. While in the orchestra he added another ten albums to his resume. All together he has lent his talents on somewhere over a 100 albums and composed about three times as many songs. Eaton, as a nominee for the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, finally went home to Birmingham in 1985. There he put together a band of his own, Cleve Eaton & Co. The ensemble has recorded tunes like "Corner Pocket," and "The B'ham Shuffle." Most of the group's numbers mix R&B and pop in with jazz.

During his long career, Cleveland Eaton has performed with many great artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespy, the Temptations, John Klemmer, Miles Davis, Smokey Robinson, Sarah Vaughn, Walter Jackson, and many others. by Charlotte Dillon


More info at:

LA Times Awards Database
Alabama Music Hall of Fame
Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame
All Music
Cleveland Eaton website
Cleveland Eaton at
Short, Dale (Fall 1997) "UAB's Jazz Man: Cleveland Eaton" UAB Magazine Vol. 17, No. 4
"Jazz in the Magic City" (VHS) Documentary Film by Sandy Jaffe, 1985


Amazon: Cleveland Eaton

iTunes: I Promise Jesus - Cleve Eaton & The G.O.E. Singers

Keep Love Alive - Cleveland Eaton & The Garden Of Eaton

Instant Hip - Cleveland Eaton

Cleve Eaton & The G.O.E. Singers: I Promise Jesus

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