Funny Valentine: A Biography Of Chet Baker



Funny Valentine is the definitive biography of the legendary jazz trumpet player and singer, Chet Baker. In the words of the singer, Chris Isaak, who appeared in a documentary about him, “when a cowboy grows up in Oklahoma and ends up in Rome, he’s got to have a story”.

Chet’s life story includes an early taste of fame; he was a protégé of Charlie Parker, and won the New Star award for the trumpet in the prestigious DownBeat Critics Poll in 1953. He struggled to cope with the pressures of success, however, and after an ill-fated tour of Europe he descended into drug addiction. His fall from grace included spells of incarceration and a severe beating, which eventually resulted in his being fitted with dentures. Against all the odds, he embarked on a comeback in the 1970s, and whilst his playing was somewhat erratic in his later years, he still managed to produce some of his finest recordings.

Funny Valentine is an intimate and unflinching portrait of Chet Baker, drawing on almost two hundred exclusive interviews with close friends and musicians. It includes a detailed, illustrated discography, helping readers to navigate the extensive catalogue he left behind.


"Chet Baker has always been, and will continue to be a source of great fascination, drawing interest from many people even those who would not count themselves as Jazz fans. The intrigue more often than not is centered around the dark side of his life style and his demise. So it is refreshing to find someone who is obviously a fan of Chet the musician, who has written an account that concentrates far more on the music and the musicians he surrounded himself with. Matthew Ruddick has written a really great book and I would highly recommend it." (Guy Barker, English jazz trumpet player and composer).

"With 'Funny Valentine', Matthew Ruddick fills a tremendous void in what has been written about Chet Baker's history. Twenty four years after Chet's departure, finally the light is shed on the essential and most beautiful qualities of this natural and fascinating artist. You'll discover here a fragile young man with an extraordinary musical gift, a free artist hard to tame, a musician of rare elegance, searching - and finding - until the very end, a devoted lover, a compassionate fellow, a sensitive human being - humane, terribly humane" (Riccardo Del Fra, Italian jazz bass player and composer)

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Photograph: Courtesy of Graziano Arici, used with permission.

The definitive biography ... available from June 30th, 2012