Lionel Frederick Cole (born October 15, 1931) is an internationally known American jazz singer/pianist whose recording career has spanned over fifty years. He is part of the Freddy Cole Quartet, which regularly tours the US, Europe, the Far East and South America.
He is the brother of famous Jazz musician Nat King Cole, and the father of Lionel Cole and the uncle of Natalie Cole. Lionel Fredrick Cole was born October 15, 1931, to Edward and Paulina Cole. He grew up in Chicago with siblings Eddie, Ike and Nat King Cole. Cole began playing piano at the age of six. Though he originally hoped for a career in football, a hand injury ended it. Cole began playing and singing in Chicago clubs. Although he was ready to hit the road at 18, his mother intervened and he continued his musical education at the Roosevelt Institute in Chicago before moving to New York in 1951. While in New York, Cole studied at the Juilliard School of Music, then went on to get a master’s degree at the New England Conservatory of Music.
Cole's first single, "The Joke's on Me", was released in 1952 by Topper Records, a small Chicago-based label. His next single, "Whispering Grass" on Columbia's OKeh label, was a moderate hit in 1953. He later spent several months on the road with Johnny Coles and Benny Golson as a member of an Earl Bostic band before returning to hone his skills in the bistros of New York. He went on to work with Grover Washington, Jr. and to record jingles for various companies, including Turner Classic Movies
During the 1970s, Cole recorded several albums for European and English based labels. He was the subject of the 2006 documentary The Cole Nobody Knows by filmmaker Clay Walker. In June of that year, Cole was added to the Steinway Artist roster.