Earl Grant (January 20, 1931 – June 10, 1970) was an American pianist, organist, and vocalist popular in the 1950s and 1960s.
Grant was born one of twelve children His father was a Baptist minister in Idabel, Oklahoma. Though he would be known later for his keyboards and vocals, Grant also played trumpet and drums. He studied keyboards at the Kansas City Conservatory, the University of Southern California, and DePaul University, eventually becoming a music teacher.
He augmented his income by performing in clubs during his army service, throughout which he was stationed in Fort Bliss, Texas. He completed graduate studies at USC after his discharge. Decca Records offered him a contract after spotting him performing at a club in Los Angeles in 1957. His first single "The End" reached number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
His best-selling album featured his rendition of Robert Maxwell's standard, "Ebb Tide", and was reported to have sold over 500,000 copies. The single from the album sold over one million copies, gaining gold disc status.
He sang as well as played, and most of his later recordings included 2-3 vocal numbers. His voice had a husky, dry tone similar to Nat King Cole's, and rumours persisted throughout his career that he was Cole's brother. He also appeared in several films, including Imitation of Life and Tender is the Night.
He recorded five more singles that made the charts, including "Swingin' Gently" (from Beyond the Reef) and "Sweet Sixteen Bars" in 1962. It reached number nine on the R&B charts. He also recorded six additional albums (mostly on the Decca label) through 1968.
He also recorded the album Yes Sirree and the instrumental album Trade Winds, single-tracked on the Hammond organ and piano, featuring the love theme from the film El Cid and Chaplin's "Eternally". This album featured some realistic sounding "tropical bird calls" produced by his electric organ. "The House of Bamboo" was another big-selling single. In all, Grant recorded 30 albums for Decca.
Grant also made a few appearances in film and television, including Tender Is the Night (1962), Juke Box Rhythm (1959), and The Ed Sullivan Show (1961). Grant sings the title theme for the 1959 film Imitation of Life in a way very close to an imitation of Nat King Cole.
He died instantly in a car accident in Lordsburg, New Mexico, at the age of 39 when the Rolls Royce he was driving ran off Interstate 10. He was driving from Los Angeles to an intended destination in Juarez, Mexico. His 17-year-old cousin was also killed in the accident. (Info edited from various sources, mainly Wikipedia)