Student Wilberforce University, Xenia, O., 1925-1926.
After stints with Elmer Snowden, Fletcher Henderson, Horace Henderson, McKinney"s Cotton Pickers, and Luis Russell, Stewart joined the Ellington band in 1934, replacing Freddie Jenkins. Ellington arranged many of his pieces to showcase Stewart"s half-valve effects, muted sound, and forceful style. After eleven years Stewart left to lead his own groups - " little swing bands, that were a perfect setting for his solo playing." He also toured Europe and Australia with Jazz at the Philharmonic from 1947 to 1951.
From the early 1950s on he worked in radio and television and published highly regarded jazz criticism.
The book Jazz Masters of the Thirties is a selection of his criticism. Rex also wrote for Playboy, Down Beat and several other publications during his life.
He lived in upstate New York after purchasing a 100+ year old farmhouse. He hosted a jazz radio program in Troy, New York and owned a small restaurant for a very short time near a drag racing stadium in Vermont.
While living in France, he attended the Cordon Bleu school of cooking and dedicated his life to being a fine cook.
While in Los Angeles he re-connected to many of the Ellington side-men who lived there and played a lot of "jam" sessions in clubs in the Los Angeles area. Rex was also one of the regular studio musicians seen on the Steve Allen television show. He hosted and coproduced (with George Cole) two radio shows about jazz music from his era, Dixieland Doings and Things Aint What They Used To Be.
Member Friends of America Jazz (director), A.S.C.A.P., American Federation television and Radio Artists, Screen Actors Guild, American Federation Musicians. Clubs: Le Jazz Hot.
Married Margarita Slaughter, June 7, 1929. Married second, Ruth Hansen. Children: Helena, Rex William, III, Regina.