Ben Webster was born in 1909, in Kansas City, Missouri. Before learning the tenor sax, he played the piano, violin, clarinet and alto sax. His first "performance" was playing the piano in a cinema.
In 1930, he played in W.H. Young's orchestra (father of Lester).
In 1933 he played with Count Basie in Benny Moten's orchestra. In 1934 he played with Benny Carter.
Influenced primarily by Coleman Hawkins, he begins to develop a personal style. I have heard his style described in many ways, but to me it always sounds like melting butter in an oven. If you hear a saxophone that sounds like that, you can bet your life it's Ben Webster.
From 1935-1945 he works with Duke Ellington, Roy Eldridge, Teddy wilson, Sidney Catlett, Henry Allen and several others. In a long stint with the Duke he refines his style.
In 1948 He is hired by Norman Gratz for the J.A.T.P until 1959. His financial problems are solved, and he plays with greats such as Oscar Peterson and Ray Brown.
In 1964 he emigrated to Europe, and in 1969 settled in Copenhagen.
In 1973, Ben was taken ill during a performance in Leiden, Holland, and died from a brain haemmorage in a hospital in Amsterdam.