Legendary jazz family struck with tragedy again after downtown Atlanta stabbing

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

A family known for its legendary jazz influence was again touched by tragedy when Tracy Cole, grandson of Freddy Cole and great-nephew to Nat King Cole, was stabbed to death at a downtown Atlanta apartment building this week.

The 31-year-old suffered multiple stab wounds at the MAA Centennial Olympic Park apartments early Thursday morning, but Atlanta police did not say if he was found outside or inside the complex. Tracy Cole was rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital but later died from his wounds.

His identity was confirmed by the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office, Channel 2 Action News reported.

No other details have been released about the killing, creating an air of mystery around Cole’s death.

He was highly active on social media, where he promoted his business as a cigar salesman and consultant. He was a sales reprepresentative for former NFL wide receiver Chad Ochocinco’s Eighty5 Cigars brand and was mourned online by the local festival Atlanta Cigar Week, which is taking place this week.

“The Atlanta cigar community is deeply saddened by the loss of such a vibrant soul,” the festival posted online.

The Cole family are no strangers to loss. Nat King Cole died from lung cancer in 1965 at age 45, but he had already reached an immortal level of fame in his three-decade music career. His daughter, Natalie Cole, was just 15 when she lost her father, but she went on to have her own long and decorated music career. She died on New Year’s Eve in 2015 at age 65 due to complications from ongoing health issues.

Freddy Cole, Nat King Cole’s youngest brother, lived a long life and grew to become a jazz legend in his own right. He relocated his family to Atlanta in the 1970s and lived here until his death in 2020 at the age of 88. When Natalie died in 2015, Freddy Cole was already mourning his wife of 50 years, Margaret Cole, who had died earlier that year after battling Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Freddy Cole was survived by his daughter Crystal Cole and son Lionel Cole, who is also a musician. Tracy Cole was among Freddy’s four grandchildren, and he spoke with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about his grandfather’s legacy at the time of his death.

“For a man who traveled the world and performed for thousands of people everywhere, he lived a great life,” Tracy Cole said of his grandfather in 2020. “He had fun.”