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Bill Mays: Mays’ Days

Bill Mays (photo: Alan Nahigian)
Bill Mays, Martin Wind and Matt Wilson (photo: Judy Kirtley)

In 1959, 15-year-old Bill Mays, the son of a fundamentalist preacher in California, had jazz revealed to him by a god of the piano.

Earl “Fatha” Hines, resident pianist at the Hangover Club across the bay in San Francisco, was making an appearance near the Mays home in Lafayette. Mays had been playing the piano since he was five and had solid classical training, but Bill Lotter, the choir director in Bill Mays Sr.’s church, wanted to expand the teenager’s horizons.

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