R.I.P. Dr. Billy Taylor

Legendary Jazz pianist dies at age 89.

Posted by billd on Thu Dec 30, 2010

Music News

Jazz legend Billy Taylor, one of the most influential jazz pianists and composers of the second half of the twentieth century, died in Manhattan on Tuesday at age 89. Dr. Taylor, as he preferred to be called, passed away due to heart failure, his daughter Kim Taylor-Thompson noted in a statement.

Growing up in Washington, D.C., Dr. Taylor started as a professional piano player in 1944, initially making his mark on New York's 52nd Street with Ben Webster's Quartet. Over the course his career, Dr. Taylor composed more than 350 songs, including “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free,” an unofficial anthem of the civil rights movement. He shared the stage at the famous Birdland club with other jazz legends, including Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie.

Dr. Taylor was one of only three jazz musicians to serve on the National Council of the Arts. He won two Peabody Awards, an Emmy, and a Grammy, among other awards. He also received the National Medal of the Arts.

 

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