Categotry Archives: Musicians

by

Wild Bill Whelan

6 comments

Categories: Musicians

William F. “Wild Bill” Whelan, a jazz singer and musician who performed in Washington D.C. for nearly 50 years, died on Aug. 21 of kidney failure and a stroke. He was 76.
Whelan first played the trumpet at Linton Hall military school and Western High School, which is now known as the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. He served as an Army geodesist and cartographer in Europe during World War II, then worked for the Army Map Service from 1948 to 1984.
His after-work hours, however, were dedicated to jazz. Although he claimed he couldn’t read music, Whelan and the Dixie Six played as the house band at the Bayou, a popular Washington jazz club, for almost 20 years. Whelan also fronted the Bicentennial Jazz Band and played cornet and string bass with many local groups, including Fat Cat’s Festival Jazzers, the Not-So-Modern Jazz Quartet and the Washington Monumental Jazz Band.

by

Wesley Willis

12 comments

Categories: Musicians

wwillis.jpgWesley Willis, a musician and underground icon in Chicago, died on Aug. 21. Cause of death was not released. He was 40.
Willis began his music career performing on the street. He opened for a few local bands until 1989 when he was diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia. Several years of mental illness and homelessness followed as Willis struggled to play music and battle what he called the “schizophrenia demons” in his head.
In 1992, Willis and guitarist Dale Meiners formed the Wesley Willis Fiasco. The band, which Willis fronted, built up a cult following by recording more than 50 albums of indie music and rants, and getting airplay on the “Doctor Demento Show.”
Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys, released two of Willis’ albums: “Greatest Hits, Volume I” and “Volume II,” on the Alternative Tentacles Records label. “Greatest Hits, Volume 3” is scheduled for release on Oct. 6.

by

Grover Mitchell

30 comments

Categories: Musicians

Grover Mitchell, a jazz trombonist who lead the Count Basie Orchestra, died on Aug. 6 of cancer. He was 73.
As a child growing up in Pittsburgh, Mitchell wanted to play the trumpet, but his band teacher said he had the arms of a trombone player. Mitchell protested until he heard Tommy Dorsey play, then he dedicated himself to learning the instrument.
Mitchell earned a degree in music from Empire State College, then moved to San Francisco to work with Earl “Fatha” Hines, Lionel Hampton and Duke Ellington. He played in the Count Basie Orchestra from 1962 to 1970, and again from 1980 to 1984.
After Basie died, Mitchell was the third person tapped to lead the group. Under his guidance, the band recorded “Count Basie Orchestra With the New York Voices,” which won a Grammy in 1996 for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance.
During his years away from the Basie Orchestra, Mitchell played on the “Flip Wilson Show” and in the film, “Lady Sings the Blues.” He also led his own band, a 12-piece unit that produced five recordings and played in the Rainbow Room.
Read an Interview With Grover Mitchell

by

Julius Baker

12 comments

Categories: Musicians

jbaker.jpgJulius Baker, a principal flutist of the New York Philharmonic, died on Aug. 6 of an apparent heart attack. He was 87.
A native of Cleveland, Baker first picked up the flute after watching his father play it. He graduated in 1937 from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and joined the Cleveland Orchestra. Then he performed as the principal flutist for the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Columbia Broadcasting Symphony in New York and the Chicago Symphony.
Baker joined the New York Philharmonic in 1965 and spent 18 years in the solo flute position under the directorships of Leonard Bernstein and Pierre Boulez. He also taught music at the Juilliard School and Toho University in Tokyo, released nine CDs and performed at the 200th birthday of Theobald Boehm, the developer of the modern flute.

by

Walter Taussig

2 comments

Categories: Musicians

Walter Taussig spent half a century training singers at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
From 1949 to 2002, the Vienna-born vocal coach served as the chorus master and assistant conductor at the Met. His students included Placido Domingo, Birgit Nilsson and Maria Callas.
As a child, Taussig studied composition and conducting at the Music Academy in Vienna. After graduation, he was forced to flee Europe in order to avoid Nazi persecution for being Jewish. Taussig coached music students in Istanbul and Cairo before moving to Cuba, where he conducted the Havana Philharmonic. Before settling in New York, Taussig also worked at the Chicago Opera, the Montreal Opera and the San Francisco Opera.
Taussig died on July 31 of natural causes. He was 95.

1 2 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42