Jazz trumpeter Clark Terry, who performed with some of the genre’s biggest names over the course of his long career, has died, according to a report in Rolling Stone. He was 94 years old. Terry had been suffering from health complications brought on by diabetes.
Terry was born and raised in St. Louis, where he began his career as a sideman in the 1940s. After serving in the Navy as a bandsman during World War II, Terry played in the orchestras of Duke Ellington and Count Basie during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Terry was renowned for his adaptability as a musician; he could interpret any style of jazz perfectly, from swing to bop and beyond. Terry also performed with the likes of Thelonious Monk, Oscar Peterson, and Quincy Jones, and he even became a bandleader in his own right in 1955.
Terry’s most famous gig to people who aren’t jazz aficionados came when he joined The Tonight Show band. As the first African-American band member to appear as a regular on a live television show, Terry gained further notoriety with his vocal performances of “Mumbles” and “Squeeze Me.” Terry was awarded like a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2010.
Terry is survived by his wife, Gwen, and his stepsons, Gary and Tony Paris.