Charlie Parker rocketed to fame as the premier jazz saxophonist of the 1940s and 50s. He began his unparalleled rise to greatness in the world of jazz in Kansas City, Missouri, in the mid–1930s. “Bird,” as Parker was known first to his friends and later to the world, honed his early skills on a $45 used alto saxophone bought for him by his mother Addie Parker. The old horn was decrepit. Its valves were always sticking, its pads were always leaking, and it had rubber bands and cellophane paper all over it. Charlie had to hold it sideways to make it blow. But the sound he blew would later dazzle a world of admirers and imitators. Known for his direct, cutting tone and extraordinary dexterity on the alto saxophone, Parker turned rapid tempos and fast flurries of notes into a new kind of music known as bebop or bop. The Bird flew high for two decades, then plunged precipitously to an early death from drug- and alcohol-addiction at the age of 34—a legend then and so he remains today.