Born September 23, 1928 in Cincinnati, Ohio, Frank Benjamin Foster III began his long musical career at age eleven, when he took up the clarinet. Two years later he began playing alto saxophone, advancing technically to the point of performing with local dance bands at age 14. He began to compose and arrange at 15, and led his own 12- piece band while still only a senior in high school. Foster attended Wilberforce University, then left for Detroit in 1949 (with trumpeter Snooky Young) where he played with such local musicians as Wardell Gray.
Upon finishing his military service in 1953, Foster joined Count Basie's big band (replacing Eddie Lockjaw Davis) on the recommendation of Ernie Wilkins. In addition to his full throated tenor playing, Foster contributed original material to the band including the standard, Shiny Stockings, and other popular songs including “Down For The Count,” “Blues Backstage,” “Back to the Apple,” “Discommotion,” and “Blues In Hoss Flat” as well as arrangements for the entire Easin’ It album.