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Chan Parker

Chan Woods
Born Beverly Dolores Berg[1]
29 June 1925
New York City, New York, United States
Died 9 September 1999 (aged 74)
Étampes, France
Spouse Charlie Parker; Phil Woods

Chan Woods (29 June 1925[2] – 9 September 1999), well known as Chan Parker, was a common-law wife of jazz musician Charlie Parker and later married musician Phil Woods.

Woods was born Beverly Dolores Berg in New York City, New York of partial Jewish ancestry. She was a dancer and jazz enthusiast. She met Parker in the 1940s, but their friendship did not become romantic until years later. As it developed, their relationship had to surmount several obstacles, not the least of which were Charlie's frequently ungovernable drug and alcohol abuse and the simple fact of sharing love across a racial divide that the society of the era was hugely invested in maintaining.

Woods complained that taxis would not pick Parker up because of his race, and mentioned that the two of them often attracted stares because their relationship was interracial at a time when American society was still highly segregated. However, in the jazz world, which had long been integrated, it was not an issue. Woods indicated in her memoirs that Parker protected her, to a degree, from both these problems.

There were other strains as well. Their relationship was dealt a severe blow with the death of their daughter, Pree, a year and a week before Charlie Parker's own death. [3] After Parker's death in 1955, Chan married saxophonist Phil Woods and relocated to France, where she spent much of the rest of her life. In her later years, she went on to write a memoir, My Life in E-Flat,[4] which discusses her life with Charlie Parker. It was published in 1999, the year of her death, which occurred in Étampes, France.

Just before her death, Chan was interviewed by Ken Burns, and she was seen posthumously in Burns' 2001 documentary, Jazz.


  1. ^ Chan Parker
  2. ^ Chan Woods entry, Social Security Death Index
  3. ^ PBS interview
  4. ^ Parker, Chan. My Life in E-flat, University of South Carolina Press, 1999. ISBN 1-57003-245-9

External links

  • "Bird Lives" website
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