DEAD: Thelonious Monk

DEAD: ON THIS DATE

Thelonious Monk (aged 64)

American jazz pianist and composer

Thelonious Sphere Monk (/θəˈloʊniəs/, October 10, 1917 – February 17, 1982) was an American jazz pianist and composer. He had a unique improvisational style and made numerous contributions to the standard jazz repertoire, including “‘Round Midnight”, “Blue Monk”, “Straight, No Chaser”, “Ruby, My Dear”, “In Walked Bud”, and “Well, You Needn’t”. Monk is the second-most-recorded jazz composer after Duke Ellington, which is particularly remarkable as Ellington composed more than a thousand pieces, whereas Monk wrote about 70.

DEATH: As his health declined, Monk’s last six years were spent as a guest in the Weehawken, New Jersey, home of his long-standing patron and friend, Pannonica de Koenigswarter, who had also nursed Parker during his final illness. She proved to be a steadfast presence, as did his own wife Nellie, especially as his life descended into further isolation. Monk did not play the piano during this time, even though one was present in his room, and he spoke to few visitors. He died of a stroke on February 17, 1982, and was buried in Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. In 1993, he was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2006, he was awarded a special Pulitzer Prize for “a body of distinguished and innovative musical composition that has had a significant and enduring impact on the evolution of jazz”.

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