Bandleader Harold Vick was born in Rocky Mount in 1936. Known as a hard bop and soul tenor sax player, he was first given a clarinet as a young teenager by his uncle Prince — an accomplished Virginia-born jazz clarinetist and tenor saxophonist who had been a member of the legendary hot jazz band McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, and recorded with Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Billie Holiday. Within a few years Vick followed his uncle in taking up the tenor sax as well.
Vick attended Howard University and settled in New York. As a band leader, Vick made his first recording in 1963 for the Blue Note label. Many more recordings would follow on several other prominent labels. He recorded both as a leader and as a sideman. In concert and on records he collaborated with a host of other fellow jazz and R&B greats, including the Greenville native Billy Taylor, Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, and Sarah Vaughan. He appeared in movies: Spike Lee’s School Daze (he also played on the soundtrack of She’s Gotta Have It), Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories, and Francis Ford Coppola’s Cotton Club.