Clark Terry, Former Tonight Show Trumpeter, Dies at 94

Clark Terry and his family accept an award during the 52nd annual Grammy Awards Special Merit Awards at the Wilshire Ebell Theater on Jan. 30, 2010, in Los Angeles. 
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Legendary trumpeter Clark Terry, a 2010 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, died Saturday after suffering from the effects of advanced diabetes, according to Variety.

He was 94 and entered hospice care on Feb. 13, the report says.

“Our beloved Clark Terry has joined the big band in heaven where he'll be singing and playing with the angels,” his wife, Gwen, posted on Facebook Saturday. “He left us peacefully, surrounded by his family, students and friends. Clark has known and played with so many amazing people in his life. He has found great joy in his friendships and his greatest passion was spending time with his students. We will miss him every minute of every day, but he will live on through the beautiful music and positivity that he gave to the world. Clark will live in our hearts forever.”


Terry, a native of St. Louis, was best-known as a longtime featured soloist in the house band of NBC’s The Tonight Show. He joined the show in 1960 after touring with Duke Ellington’s band, becoming the first African-American staff musician with the network, reports say.

Among the most prolific and widely admired jazz instrumentalists, Terry led or co-led more than 80 recording dates and played on more than 900 sessions by his last one in 2004, Variety writes. As reported by The Root last year, he was featured in Keep on Keepin’ On, a moving documentary that illustrates the power of the apprentice-teacher relationship.

Read more at Variety.

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