Eric Schneider’s musical adventures began early. Born and raised in the Chicago area, he was able to play melodies on the piano at age three. After graduating from the University of Illinois with a degree in Advertising, he returned to Chicago and joined Jim Beebe’s Chicago Jazz Band. Earl Fatha’ Hines, who knew a thing or two about good, young saxophone players (and had hired Charlie Parker some thirty years earlier) heard about Eric and requested an audition tape. This resulted in a four-year stay, touring all over the world, as well as the LP, Eric and Earl (Hines insisted on second billing).
With Hines’ blessing Eric accepted Count Basie’s offer to join the Basie Orchestra and subsequently occupied the “hot” tenor chair for two years, following in the footsteps of his other main musical influence, Lester Young, who held the chair from 1936 to 1940. During his tenure with Basie, Schneider recorded three albums, including the Grammy Award-winning 88 Basie Street. These six years of nonstop touring brought him into the company of some of America’s greatest artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Sarah Vaughan, Tony Bennett, Clark Terry, Mel Tormé, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joe Williams, Ray McKinley, Rosemary Clooney and Billy Eckstine.