William Thomas "Billy" Strayhorn (November 29, 1915 â€“ May 31, 1967) was an American composer, pianist and arranger, best known for his successful collaboration with bandleader and composer Duke Ellington lasting close to three decades. His compositions include "Chelsea Bridge", "Take the "A" Train" and "Lush Life".
William "Billy" Thomas Strayhorn was born in Dayton, Ohio. His family soon moved to the Homewood section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. However, his mother's family was from Hillsborough, North Carolina, and she sent him there to protect him from his father's drunken sprees. Strayhorn spent many months of his childhood at his grandparents' house in Hillsborough. In an interview, Strayhorn said that his grandmother was his primary influence during the first ten years of his life. He first became interested in music while living with her, playing hymns on her piano, and playing records on her Victrola record player.
Strayhorn returned to Pittsburgh, and attended Westinghouse High School, later attended by Erroll Garner and Ahmad Jamal. In Pittsburgh, he began his musical career, studying classical music for a time at the Pittsburgh.