On August 23, 2006, we lost Maynard Ferguson. He
performed and recorded right up to the very end, playing
to sold out crowds at the Blue Note in New York City
as well as recording a brand new album in July 2006.
LEGENDARY MUSICIAN MAYNARD FERGUSON DIES
Grammy Nominated Trumpeter Known for "Gonna Fly
Theme To Movie "ROCKY" was 78
Ojai, CA (August 24, 2006) - Walter "Maynard"
Ferguson, one of the most influential musicians and
band leaders in the history of Jazz, passed away August
23rd at 8:00 pm Pacific Time at Community Memorial
Hospital in Ventura, California. He was 78 years old.
His death was the result of kidney and liver failure
brought on by an abdominal infection. Mr. Ferguson's
four daughters, Kim, Lisa, Corby, Wilder and other
family members were at his side when he passed away
after this brief illness. He spoke by phone with his
friend and manager Steve Schankman from St. Louis,
longtime tour manager Ed Sargent, and friend, and
fellow trumpeter Arturo Sandoval.
Mr. Ferguson had recently returned home to California
from New York after several sold out performances
in July at the famed Blue Note Club. During this time,
Ferguson and his Big Bop Nouveau band also recorded
a new album at Bennett Studios in Englewood, New Jersey.
Maynard Ferguson, born May 4th 1928 in Montreal,
started his career at the age of 13 when he performed
as a featured soloist with the Canadian Broadcasting
Company Orchestra. He played with some of the great
Big Band Leaders of the 1940's including Count Basie,
Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Barnett,
Jimmy Dorsey and Stan Kenton. In 1945, at age 17,
Ferguson became the leader of his own Big Band. The
78-year old musical phenomenon went on to record more
than 60 albums, receiving numerous honors and awards
including the GRAMMY® nomination for "Gonna
Fly Now." In 2005, Ferguson was awarded Canada's
highest civilian honor, the "Order of Canada"
from the Right Honorable Governor General Adrienne
Clarkson. In addition to those accolades, Ferguson
has been the recipient of DownBeat Magazine's prestigious
"The Boss," as Ferguson is known, has been
performing for packed houses for decades. His recent
DVD release, "Live at The Top," captures
one of his most memorable performances, a concert
held at the Plaza Hotel in Rochester New York in 1975,
with Ferguson performing alongside fellow music pioneers
Stan Mark, Ernie Garside and Bruce Johnston. Most
recently, Ferguson and Big Bop Nouveau Band had been
touring the United States. He was preparing for a
Fall Tour beginning mid-September in Tokyo, Japan.
He had also been invited to play for the King of Thailand's
80th birthday in January.
Mr. Ferguson's body will be cremated in his hometown
of Ojai, California. Memorial contributions can be
made to the Maynard Ferguson Music Scholarship Fund
at University of Missouri - St. Louis, which was established
by Steve Schankman at Maynard's 75th birthday celebration.
Mr. Schankman and the Ferguson family are planning
a memorial concert to take place in St. Louis which
will feature many of the band's alumni and friends
who Mr. Ferguson performed with during his more than
60-year musical career.
Mr. Ferguson's latest, and last, recording will be
released later this year as a legacy to the life of
Donate to the Maynard Ferguson
Please consider donating to the Maynard Ferguson Scholarship
Fund at the University of Missouri - St. Louis. You
can do so two ways:
Via check or money order to:
"Maynard Ferguson Music Scholarship"
University of Missouri St. Louis
C/O Dr. Dixie Kohn
8001 Natural Bridge Road
407 Woods Hall
St. Louis, MO. 63121
Just follow this
link and click on "Make a Gift". Then,
choose "Maynard Ferguson Scholarship" in
the Gift Designation drop-down menu.
Note from Matt
Keller, webmaster of MaynardFerguson.com:
I was 15 when I first heard a Maynard Ferguson recording.
I had been involved with my school's music program
for several years, but it was beginning to bore me.
An upper-classman handed me his copy of "Live
From San Francisco" and told me to listen to
it. My first thought was, "Maynard Ferguson?
That night I first heard the tune "Coconut Champagne".
I've never looked at the trumpet the same way again.
Hearing Maynard Ferguson play for the first time is
a unique experience for a trumpet player. It's as
though the world was in black and white before...and
suddenly you can see colors. I joined the jazz band
and was playing lead trumpet a year later.
Maynard's unique style has spawned hundreds of imitators
over the years. Many were able to hit the same high
notes that became Maynard's trademark, but none seemed
quite as proficient at transmitting the sheer joy
and positive energy that Maynard put into every single
one of his performances.
Many styles of music conjure up various images and
descriptions, but to me, Maynard's approach to music
always brought to mind one word: Triumph. Maynard's
music is nothing less than triumph personified. When
Maynard was on stage, and he planted his feet and
lifted his horn straight up into the air, every fan
in that concert hall knew what was coming: Triumph.
The number of lives that Maynard touched over the
years is truly immeasurable. How many young people
got the message that music was fun, not just practicing
scales, from Maynard's music? How many small towns
packed their high school auditoriums to hear a "big
time jazz artist" play? And how many thousands
of autographs did Maynard sign with a smile on his
face? Maynard wasn't only one of the best musicians
I ever heard, he was one of the most positive, kind,
and generous people I ever knew.
I'll miss you, Boss.