HomeNewsWho was Joey DeFrancesco? Renowned Jazz Organ Player Dies at 51

Who was Joey DeFrancesco? Renowned Jazz Organ Player Dies at 51

Renowned jazz organ player Joey DeFrancesco has passed away at the age of 51. Once touted to be the ‘best Hammond  B3 player on the planet’, the musician died on Thursday, August 25.

Apart from being a jazz organist, Joey was also a trumpeter, saxophonist, and occasional singer. He started his music career at the age of 16 and remained one of the top jazz organists for more than 30 years. Read on to know more about the musician’s unfortunate demise.

Joey’s Wife Announced the News of his Death

The sad news was shared by Joey’s wife, Gloria DeFrancesco, who also worked as his manager. Gloria posted an image of her deceased husband on Instagram and wrote, “The love of my life is now in peace with the angels. Right now I have very few words. Thank you for the outpouring of love and support coming in from everywhere. Joey loved you all ♥️Gloria”

A cause of death has not been revealed by the family. Joey was supposed to perform at the Northwest Jazz Festival in Lewiston, New York, on August 27, but destiny had other plans. The festival organizers also announced the news of his passing on social media and shared how excited he was to headline the event.

They wrote, “It is with a heavy heart that we pass on the tragic news that Joey DeFrancesco passed away yesterday at the age of 51.  Our Board of Directors were looking forward to hosting him and he was very excited about treating his appearance as a “homecoming.”

Joey Signed a Recording Contract with Columbia Records at the Age of 16

Joey was born on April 10, 1971, in Springfield, Pennsylvania. His family include three generations of jazz musicians. He began playing the organ at only four years of age. When he was 10, he joined a band in Philadelphia that included jazz musicians Hank Mobley and Philly Joe Jones.

Joey was signed by Columbia Records in an exclusive contract at the age of 16. The next year, he released his first track, All of Me, and joined Miles Davis and his band on a five-week Europe concert tour.

He then went on to record tracks with several artists, including David Sanborn, Arturo Sandoval, Larry Coryell, Frank Wess, Benny Golson and James Moody. The musician was nominated for Grammy four times in his career. He is credited with bringing back the organ to jazz music during the 1980s.

Friends from the Industry Pay Tributes

Ever since the news of Joey’s demise broke, his friends from the music industry have been mourning his death and paying their tributes. Joel Goldenthal, the executive director at the Nash in Phoenix, where Joey played several times, said, “There’s just no way to wrap your head around this loss.”

He added, “He was such a magnificent human being. He was just incomparable. But that’s too mild a word. There never was before and never will again be anybody as accomplished as he was on any instrument.”

Mike Kocour, the director of Jazz Studies in the School of Music at Arizona State University, also expressed his grief and said, “It’s very sad, but there’s no doubt that Joey DeFrancesco did not shortchange the world. This is a guy who was prolific. I can’t think of anybody who’s done more in their lifetime, even if they lived to 90.”

Joey will surely be remembered for his contribution to the jazz music scene. Stay tuned for more news and updates.

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