Dizzy Gillespie (John Birks Gillespie)

Dizzy Gillespie

John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie (/ɡᵻˈlɛspi/; October 21, 1917 – January 6, 1993) was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer, and singer. AllMusic’s Scott Yanow wrote, “Dizzy Gillespie’s contributions to jazz were huge. One of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time (some would say the best), Gillespie was such a complex player that his contemporaries ended up copying Miles Davis and Fats Navarro instead, and it was not until Jon Faddis’s emergence in the 1970s that Dizzy’s style was successfully recreated […] Arguably Gillespie is remembered, by both critics and fans alike, as one of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time.” Dizzy Gillespie was a trumpet virtuoso and improviser, building on the virtuoso style of Roy Eldridge but adding layers of harmonic complexity previously unheard in jazz. His beret and horn-rimmed spectacles, his scat singing, his bent horn, pouched cheeks and his light-hearted personality were essential in popularizing bebop. In the 1940s Dizzy Gillespie, with Charlie Parker, became a major figure in the development of bebop and modern jazz. He taught and influenced many other musicians, including trumpeters Miles Davis, Jon Faddis, Fats Navarro, Clifford Brown, Arturo Sandoval, Lee Morgan, Chuck Mangione, and balladeer Johnny Hartman.

A longtime resident of Englewood, New Jersey he died of pancreatic cancer January 6, 1993, aged 75, and was buried in the Flushing Cemetery, Queens, New York City. Mike Longo delivered a eulogy at his funeral. He was also with Gillespie on the night he died, along with Jon Faddis and a select few others. At the time of his death, Gillespie was survived by his widow, Lorraine Willis Gillespie (d. 2004); a daughter, jazz singer Jeanie Bryson; and a grandson, Radji Birks Bryson-Barrett. Gillespie had two funerals. One was a Bahá’í funeral at his request, at which his closest friends and colleagues attended. The second was at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City open to the public. As a tribute to him, DJ Qualls’ character in the 2002 American teen comedy film The New Guy was named Dizzy Gillespie Harrison. The Marvel Comics current Hawkeye comic written by Matt Fraction features Gillespie’s music in a section of the editorials called the “Hawkguy Playlist”. Also, Dwight Morrow High School, the public high school of Englewood, New Jersey, renamed their auditorium the Dizzy Gillespie Auditorium, in memory of him. In 2014, Dizzy Gillespie was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

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Born

  • October, 21, 1917
  • USA
  • Cheraw, South Carolina

Died

  • January, 06, 1993
  • USA
  • Englewood, New Jersey

Cause of Death

  • pancreatic cancer

Cemetery

  • Flushing Cemetery
  • Flushing, New York
  • USA

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