These memoirs are of the bass player extraordinaire Charles Mingus, who died in 1979, one of the essential composers in the history of jazz. A wild, lyrical, and anguished autobiography, in which Charles Mingus pays short shrift to the facts but plunges to the very bottom of his psyche, coming up for air only when it pleases him. Completed years before his death in 1979, this is the story of: growing up in the Watts, Los Angeles of the 1920s and 30s, ruled by a strap-wielding father and Bible-quoting stepmother; Mingus’s outcast adolescent years (“a yella kid, running with the mongrels”); his apprenticeship, not only with jazzmen, but also with pimps, hookers, junkies and hoodlums; and his golden years in New York City with such legendary figures as Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and Billie Holiday. Here is Mingus in his own words, from shabby roadhouses to fabulous estates, from the psychiatric wards of Bellevue to worlds of mysticism and solitude. But for all his travels, he never strayed too far, always returning to the music.