Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Guide to the Charismic Productions Records of Dizzy Gillespie


Collection ID:
Gillespie, Dizzy, 1917-1993
Fishman, Charles
bulk 1987-1993
Collection text is in
. Some materials in
, and
Physical Description:
20 Cubic feet
31 boxes, 2 map folders
Collection documents the career of noted American jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie, through a donation from his former manager, Charles Fishman.

Scope and Contents

Scope and Contents
The collection primarily documents Charles Fishman's tenure as Gillespie's manager, 1985-1993, and is composed of business records. There is also a significant amount of personal material and photographs from the 1940s-1980s, much of which was saved by Mr. Fishman when Dizzy Gillespie wanted to throw these materials away or take them home.


The collection is divided into eleven series.
Series 1, Personal Materials, 1988-1993, undated
Series 2, Correspondence, 1987-2002
Series 3, Business Files, 1979-2001, undated
Series 4, Contracts, 1987-1993
Series 5, Performance Programs, 1984-1997
Series 6, Awards and Honors, 1989-1991
Series 7, Music Manuscripts, undated
Series 8, Photographs, 1941-1993, undated
Subseries 8.1, Dizzy Gillespie, 1941-1993, undated
Subseries 8.2, Albums, 1988-1993
Subseries 8.3, Other Artists, undated
Subseries 8.4, Negatives, undated
Series 9, Newspaper Clippings and Magazine Articles, 1958-2000, undated
Series 10, Artwork and Posters, 1982-2006, undated
Subseries 10.1, Artwork, 1990-2004, undated
Subseries 10.2, Posters, 1982-2006, undated
Series 11, Audio Visual Materials, 1950-1992, undated
Subseries 11.1, Sound Recordings, 1989-1992, undated
Subseries 11.2, Moving Images, 1946-1992, undated

Biographical / Historical

Biographical / Historical
Born in South Carolina in 1917, John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie was a master jazz trumpeter, bandleader, singer, and composer. In the 1940s, he was one of the principal developers of both bebop and Afro-Cuban jazz. Through the multitudes of musicians with whom he played and who he encouraged; he was one of the most influential players in the history of jazz.
The youngest of nine children, Gillespie was exposed to music by his father, a part-time bandleader who kept all his band's instruments at home, where young Gillespie tried them out. At age twelve, he received a music scholarship to the Laurinburg Institute in North Carolina, where he played trumpet in the school band. In 1935, at age eighteen, he moved to Philadelphia and joined his first band, where his clownish onstage behavior and sense of humor earned him his nickname, "Dizzy." Thereafter, he was almost constantly joining and leaving, or forming and disbanding, bands of various size and style, as he set out to first hone his talent, then to develop his own creative innovations and to publish his recordings, and then to fulfill his lifelong desire to lead his own band. Along the way, he played with, collaborated with, encouraged, and influenced, all the major – and most of the minor – jazz musicians of his age, including Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Carter, Billy Eckstine, Cab Calloway, and John Coltrane.
In 1937, Gillespie moved to New York, where he joined Teddy Hill's band; with Hill he made his first overseas tour, to England and France. By 1939, he had joined Cab Calloway's band and had received his first exposure to Afro-Cuban music. In 1940, Gillespie met Charlie "Bird" Parker, Thelonious Monk, and Kenny Clarke and together they began developing a distinctive, more complex style of jazz that became known as bebop or bop. In the early 1940s, Gillespie made several recordings of this new sound. In 1945, he formed and led his own big band, which was quickly downsized into a quintet due to financial problems. He was able to reform the band the next year and keep it together for four years, but it was disbanded in 1950. During this time, he began to incorporate Latin and Cuban rhythms into his work. In 1953, a dancer accidentally fell on his trumpet and bent the bell. Gillespie decided he liked the altered tone and thereafter had his trumpets specially made that way.
In 1956, after leading several small groups, the United States State Department asked Gillespie to assemble a large band for an extensive cultural tour to Syria, Pakistan, Turkey, Greece, and Yugoslavia; a second tour, to South America, took place several months later. Although he kept the band together for two more years, the lack of government funding prevented him from keeping such a large group going and he returned to leading small ensembles. In 1964, displaying the humor for which he was well-known, Gillespie put himself forward as a candidate for President.
Gillespie continued to tour, perform, record, and to collaborate with a wide range of other musicians throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He continued to encourage new styles and new talents, such as Arturo Sandoval, whom he discovered during a 1977 visit to Cuba. In 1979, Gillespie published his autobiography, To Be or Not to Bop. In the late 1980s, he organized and led the United Nations Orchestra, a 15-piece ensemble that showcased the fusion of Latin and Caribbean influences with jazz. In these later years, although still performing, he began to slow down and enjoy the rewards of his extraordinary talent. He received several honorary degrees, was crowned a chief in Nigeria, was awarded the French Commandre d'Ordre des Artes et Lettres, won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and received both the Kennedy Center Medal of Arts and the ASCAP Duke Ellington Award for Fifty Years of Achievement as a composer, performer, and bandleader. Dizzy Gillespie passed away on January 6, 1993.


Vanessa Broussard-Simmons and Craig A. Orr
Processing Information
Photographs processed by Adrienne Cain, intern, 2008; Tiffany Daust, intern, 2008; Anne Jones, volunteer, 2008; and Reuben Jackson archivist, 2008; textual records processed by Franklin A. Robinson, archivist, and Alison Oswald, archivist, and Vanessa Broussard- Simmons, archivist, 2013.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated by Charles Fishman, Dizzy Gillespie's manager, in 2007.

Using the Collection

Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research. Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves. Researchers must use reference copies of audio-visual materials. When no reference copy exists, the Archives Center staff will produce reference copies on an "as needed" basis, as resources allow.
Preferred Citation
Charismic Productions Records of Dizzy Gillespie, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning intellectual property rights. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.

Related Materials
Materials held in the Archives Center
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Paquito Rivera NMAH.AC0891
James Moody Papers NMAH.AC1405
Chico O'Farrill Papers NMAH.AC0892
Boyd Raeburn Papers NMAH.AC1431
William Claxton Photographs NMAH.AC0695
Ray Brown Papers NMAH.AC1362
Earl Newman Collection of Monterey Jazz Festival Posters NMAH.AC1207
Graciela Papers NMAH.AC1425
Leonard Gaskin Papers NMAH.AC0900
Ella Fitzgerald NMAH.AC0584
Herman Leonard Photoprints NMAH.AC0445
Stephanie Myers Jazz Photographs NMAH.AC0887
John Gensel Collection of Duke Ellington Materials NMAH.AC0763
Duke Ellington Collection NMAH.AC0301
Benny Carter Collection NMAH.AC0757
Chuck Mangione NMAH.AC1151
Bill Holman Collection NMAH.AC0733
Duncan Schiedt Photograph Collection NMAH.AC1323
Fletcher and Horace Henderson Music and Photographs NMAH.AC0797
Ernie Smith Jazz Film Collection NMAH.AC0491
W. Royal Stokes Collection of Music Publicity Photoprints, Interviews, and Posters NMAH.AC0766
William Russo Music and Personal Papers NMAH.AC0845
Pat and Chuck Bress Jazz Portrait Photographs NMAH.AC1219
Milt Gabler Papers NMAH.AC0849
Floyd Levin Reference Collection NMAH.AC.1222
Materials held in the Division of Culture and the Arts
Includes Dizzy Gillespie's iconic "bent" trumpet (1986.0003.01); sound recordings, a button, and a sculpture.
Materials held in the Smithsonian Institution Archives
National Museum of American History. Office of Public Affairs Accession 95-150
Smithsonian Press/Smithsonian Productions Accession 04-091
Smithsonian Associates. Resident Associate Program Accession 03-086
Smithsonian Resident Associate Program Accession 98-031
Smithsonian Productions Accession 06-181
Smithsonian Resident Associate Program. Office of Public Affairs Record Unit 632
National Museum of American History. Department of Public Programs Accession 17-312
National Museum of American History. Office of Special Events Record Unit 595
Smithsonian Institution. Division of Performing Arts Accession T90055
America's Smithsonian. (Traveling exhibition) Accession 98-142
Smithsonian Institution. Division of Performing Arts Accession 84-012
Smithsonian Institution. Office of Telecommunications Record Unit 296
Smithsonian Institution. Office of Telecommunications Record Unit 590
Materials held in the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
Gertrude Abercrombie AAA.abergert
Materials at Other Organizations
Dizzy Gillespie Collection, circa 1987-2000, University of Idaho Library, Special Collections and Archives


Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Awards Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Business records -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Clippings -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Manuscripts -- Music -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Financial records -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jazz musicians -- United States Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- 1940-2000 Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Music -- Manuscripts Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Posters -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Trumpet players -- 20th century Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Audiovisual materials Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

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