William Gottlieb was born in New York City in 1917. As a writer and photographer, Gottlieb documented the New York and Washington, D.C. jazz scene from 1938 to 1948 in more than 1,600 photographs. During the course of his career, Gottlieb took portraits of prominent jazz musicians—including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, Earl Hines, Thelonious Monk, Ella Fitzgerald, Django Reinhardt, and Benny Carter—and legendary venues, such as 52nd Street, the Apollo Theatre, Cafe Society, the Starlight Roof, and Zanzibar. Gottlieb was an accomplished journalist for the Washington Post and supplemented his articles with photographs while on assignment.
While Gottlieb was quite conservative with how many shots he would take per roll, his photographs are reproduced to no end from album covers, to books and posters. He died at the age of 89 in 2006.