Father BILLY YOUNG took custody of jazz great Lester Young (when he was still a youngster) in 1919, and subsequently cut off contact with the mother and abused the boy.
Passage from Dave Gelly, Being Prez: The Life and Music of Lester Young (2008).
[Billy Young, Lester's father] married Lizetta, who had been one of his private music students, in 1908. They settled in Algiers [Louisiana], but he was away from home a great deal....Whatever the case, his visits were so infrequent that he seems to have played very little part in the children's early upbringing....Whenever Lester Young spoke about the first ten years of his life, his memories were always happy ones and they mostly concerned music....[Lester] was a sweet-natured, dreamy child who adored his mother and she, in turn, doted upon him....Lizetta was Billy Young's second wife. How his first marriage ended is not known, but his second probably crumbled under the strain of his prolonged absences. The final blow came in 1919, when Billy took up with another woman, Sarah Pilgrim, whom he later married....When the marriage ended he somehow assumed custody of the children and sent his sister, Mamie, to collect them. 'Mama was at at work when she came and got us,' Irma [Lester's sister] recalled. 'She told us she was taking us down for a visit, but when we got in there, Papa got us and he taken us whereever he was going.' They did not see their mother again for at least ten years....According to Irma, Lester wept bitterly for a long times afterwards....The relationship between father and son was never an easy one. Billy Young was a hard taskmaster, stern and unbending. Many years later,, one of his grandchildren aptly summed him up as 'absolutely the autocrat of all times'....[Billy Young] stuck rigidly to his code of rewards and punishments, the latter featuring liberal use of the strap....Lester, with his horror of aggression and harsh words, simply could not accept this, and his solution was to run away. He did it quite regularly, beginning at the age of eleven or twelve, and nobody knew where he went or how he survived.