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Pete Fountain, New Orleans Jazz Clarinetist, Dies at 86

Image: Pete Fountain, New Orleans Jazz Clarinetist, Dies at 86

Pete Fountain and his members of his Half-Fast Marching Club parde Mardi Gras day despite the rain on March 4, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 08 Aug 2016 10:57 AM

Pete Fountain, the famous New Orleans jazz clarinetist, died Saturday. He was 86.

Fountain, who had suffered two strokes and underwent heart surgery in recent years, had been in hospice care, The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

"He was an inspiring performer whose unmistakable sound defined our city's unique cultural heritage," New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a statement. "We have lost one of the jazz greats, but his music will live on forever."

Fountain appeared on "The Lawrence Welk Show" in the 1950s and made 59 appearances on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson, making him a national ambassador of New Orleans jazz.

Fountain's combination of swing and Dixieland was influenced by Benny Goodman and clarinetist Irving Fazola, The Associated Press reported.

Fountain began playing clarinet at age 12 and appeared in nightclubs on Bourbon Street as a teen, The New York Times reported. He was a regular at Mardi Gras and the annual Jazz and Heritage Festival.

"When I was a high school senior, my history teacher asked me why I didn’t study more," Fountain wrote in 2001, according to the Times. "I answered that I was too busy playing clarinet every night, and when I told him I was making scale — about $125 a week — he said that was more than he made and I should play full time. I guess I was a professional from that point on."

He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Beverly, as well as a daughter, two sons, a sister, six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Many Twitter users shared fond remembrances of Fountain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pete Fountain, the famous New Orleans jazz clarinetist, died Saturday. He was 86.
pete fountain, new orleans, jazz, clarinetist, dies
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2016-57-08
Monday, 08 Aug 2016 10:57 AM
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