Moore, Oscar Frederic (ca. 1912–1981)

By: Dave Oliphant

Type: Biography

Published: December 5, 2006

Updated: August 5, 2015

Oscar Frederic Moore, jazz guitarist; was born in Austin on December 25. Sources differ as to whether he was born in the year 1912 or 1915. Moore grew up in Phoenix and formed a guitar duo with his brother Johnny around 1934. He moved to Los Angeles within a few years and joined up with Nat King Cole in 1937. Except for a brief stint in the United States Army in 1944, he remained with Cole until 1947, first recording in 1939 as part of the famed Nat King Cole Trio. During the 1940s, Moore also recorded with Lionel Hampton (1940), Art Tatum (1941), and Lester Young (1946).

His solos on three tunes from his recording sessions with Cole and Hampton, "Central Avenue Breakdown," "Jack the Bellboy," and "Jivin' with Jarvis," all bear the influence of fellow Texas guitarist Charlie Christian, but also exhibit some of Moore's own distinctive styling. Most impressive is Moore's interplay with Cole in the Trio recordings, as on "What Is This Thing Called Love" and "Sweet Georgia Brown," from 1944 and 1945 respectively.

In 1947 the Moore brothers reunited in Los Angeles as part of Johnny Moore's Three Blazers, a group that remained active until the mid-1950s. During 1953–54, Moore recorded three albums but then left music to become a bricklayer. He resumed his music career in the 1960s but only performed occasionally. In 1965 he recorded an album, Tribute to Nat King Cole. Moore died in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 8, 1981. He was buried in Rose Hills Memorial Park in Los Angeles County, California, and was survived by his wife Sally, three sons, and one stepson.

Barry Kernfeld, ed., The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz Second Edition (New York: Grove's Dictionaries, 2002). Dave Oliphant, Texan Jazz (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996).


  • Music
  • Genres (Jazz)
  • Peoples
  • African Americans

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Dave Oliphant, “Moore, Oscar Frederic,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 27, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 5, 2006
August 5, 2015

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