Charles Mingus, bassist, composer and bandleader, was one of the towering figures of American twentieth century music. In this memoir, Mingus documents his childhood on an Army base in Arizona, his difficult teenage years in Watts, and his musical education by the likes of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker. Unique and lyrical voice, this memoir charts the highs and lows of a life lived to the full. Beneath the Underdog is also a portrait of life in the Forties and Fifties, of ideas of identity and race in America and the ways in which they affected the young Mingus. Above all, it is a powerful tale told through the eyes of an inspiring, anguished and extraordinary musician.