Milton Hinotn, Billy Eckstine and Lou Rawls, White House, c. 1969

Milton Hinton (1910-2000)
Billy Eckstine and Lou Rawls, White House, c. 1969
Gelatin silver print
11 x 14 in. (27.9 x 35.6 cm) – 16 1/2 x 20 1/2 in. (41.9 x 52 cm)
Gift of the Class of 1992
The Mishkin Gallery

Milton Hinton’s legacy goes beyond his lengthy career as one of the most successful American jazz bassists of the 20th century. While performing all over the world, he would always carry a camera with him. This passion for photography led to a collection of over 60 thousand photos documenting many of the most iconic moments of American Jazz history. He was also one of the most credited studio musicians of his time, recording over a thousand jazz and pop music singles and albums.

Hinton took this photograph on April 29, 1969, in Washington, DC. President Richard Nixon threw a 70th birthday party for Duke Ellington at the White House, where he awarded Duke the Medal of Freedom. For the event, many American jazz legends performed along with Duke Ellington. That night, Hilton played his bass for the Duke. Up front in the picture, we see the two great jazz singers, Billy Eckstine and Lou Rawls. In 1995, during an interview for the Fillius Jazz Archive at Hamilton College, Mona Hinton, wife of Milton, recollects that night and the fantastic vocal trio performance by Billy Eckstine, Lou Rawls, and Joe Williams.

One of the highlights of that night was Duke Ellington’s Medal of Freedom acceptance speech. In his words, the Duke mentioned the four main freedoms that his recently deceased friend and music partners Billy Strayhorn lived by and enjoyed: freedom from hate, freedom from self-pity, freedom from fear of possibly doing something that may help someone else more than it would him, and freedom from the kind of pride that could make a man feel that he is better than his brother.