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Born Charles Ralph Porter on September 24, 1912 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Porter was raised and educated in Detroit, Michigan where he learned to play trumpet. He returned to Hot Springs and organized a dance band in 1933.
In 1935 Count Basie was playing in Little Rock for Sam Baker, who ran a dance hall between 8th and 9th streets on Arch Street. Baker and Basie had a disagreement and Baker fired Basie and imported the Ralph Porter Band to replace him. Later in 1935 Ralph Porter joined the Jeter-Piller territory band and played with them for five years, ending in St. Louis where Porter met Fate Marable and joined his band playing on river boats between St. Louis and Pittsburgh, PA. After this stint Porter returned to Arkansas where he again headed his own band and various combos working in clubs into the 80's.
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