John Livingston Eaton, 29 May 1934, Washington, DC, USA. A self-taught pianist, Eaton was raised in a musical home environment. His great-grandfather was the operatic baritone William Carleton, who helped establish the US version of the DOyly Carte Opera Company. Eaton studied English Literature at Yale University in the early 50s, graduating in 1956. That same year, he played his first professional gig as a pianist in a band led by Wild Bill Whelan. In the late 50s he was served in the military. It had been his intention to teach but after his military service he changed direction and opted instead for a career as a professional musician. He was encouraged in this endeavour by Ralph Sutton, Teddy Wilson and George Shearing. He rejoined Whelan in 1959, then played with various bands, including those led by Buck Hill, Stuff Smith (with whom he made his recording debut), Jay Leonhart, Billy Taylor, Georg Brunis and Tommy Gwaltney.