Dizzy Gillespie dies, aged 75
Thursday 07 January 1993
According to Lorraine, his wife of more than half a century, Gillespie died peacefully in his sleep, at Englewood Hospital in New Jersey where he had been under treatment for pancreatic cancer for the last month. In the background played a recording of 'Dizzy's Dime', a family spokesman said.
Gillespie, born John Birks Gillespie in 1917 in Cheraw, South Carolina, was almost the last surviving representative of a veritable golden age of jazz. His contemporaries included such legendary figures as Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and John Coltrane.
But none, arguably, had a greater influence on their uniquely American art form, and none certainly was a more perfect physical embodiment of it. With his trademark goatee beard and beret, puffed-out cheeks and trumpet bell jutting skyward, he looked every inch a jazz musician - and only a jazz musician.
Until illness forced him to cancel many engagements, Gillespie practised his trade as vigorously late in life as he had in his prime, performing around the world, training young musicians, and fronting a big band called the United Nations Orchestra. He was playing up to 300 nights a year well into his seventies.
On at least two occasions Gillespie was a pioneer in the development of jazz: first in the invention of jagged, rebellious be-bop; and more recently when he worked with Cuban musicians to create an 'Afro-Latin' style, highlighted by his celebrated recording Afro-Cuban Jazz Moods in 1975.
Even in his lifetime, his achievement was universally acclaimed. Gillespie received countless awards and was the guest of presidents. Once, in 1978, he persuaded Jimmy Carter to sing along live on television with one of his tunes, 'Salt Peanuts', during a visit to the White House to mark the 25th anniversary of the Newport Jazz Festival.
A leading critic once called him 'one of the most creative musicians of the 20th century', while Woody Herman ranked him, together with Louis Armstrong, as one of the two most influential jazzmen of all time.
'I'll never stop playing,' Gillespie once said. He was almost as good as his word.
Obituary, page 22
- 1 Tidal launch: The most pretentious lines from Alicia Keys' valedictory speech
- 2 Britain First 'acting like Ukip henchmen' by invading meeting of activists in revenge for pub protest against Nigel Farage
- 3 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 4 Tidal: Jay Z's Spotify rival streaming service criticised for making wealthy artists even richer
- 5 Brixton squat flats now costing up to £3k per month show how out of control rent is in London
Britain First 'acting like Ukip henchmen' by invading meeting of activists in revenge for pub protest against Nigel Farage
Costa Concordia: Shipment of Mob drugs was hidden aboard cruise liner when it hit rocks off Italian coast, investigators say
Brixton squat flats now costing up to £3k per month show how out of control rent is in London
A new (old) cure for MRSA? Revolting recipe from the Dark Ages may be key to defeat infection
Turkey power cut: Prime Minister says nationwide blackout could be caused by terrorists
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...
£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...