Jazz legend Ellis Marsalis dies at age 85 after battling with the Coronavirus. His son Ellis Marsalis III told the Associated Press that his father had pneumonia aside from the Coronavirus.
"Pneumonia was the actual thing that caused his demise. But it was pneumonia brought on by COVID-19", the son said.
The NBC affiliate called Marsalis as the patriarch of jazz music's "First Family."
As documented in Billboard and NBC, Marsalis was born on November 14, 1934. He was the son of Ellis Marsalis, a prominent civil rights leader in New Orleans. The jazz legend began as a clarinetist in elementary school. He is a graduate of Dillard University in New Orleans with a Bachelor's degree in music education. He was a pianist who performed in many television shows in Los Angeles in the 1950s after his service in the Marines.
He played jazz in some of the places in New Orleans, like in Southern Repertory Theater and Snug Harbor.
He also taught music at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts High School in the 1970s. His students include Terrence Blanchard, Henry Connick Jr., Donald Harrison, and Nicholas Payton. All of them learned jazz piano, composition, and improvisation. He is also the first chairperson of the jazz studies program at the University of New Orleans, where he held the position until his retirement in 2001.
Marsalis married Dolores and had six sons: Ellis III, Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo, Mboya Kenyatta, and Jason. Wynton plays trumpets; Branford is a saxophonist; Delfeayo is a trombonist; Jason plays drums. Their father also taught them their skills. Two of the sons, Wynton and Branford, became successful in their careers. Wynton won nine Grammys; Branford led the Tonight Show Band.
Aside from building a career, Ellis Jr. also became a Commonwealth Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond before teaching in his hometown. During his teaching tenure, he already made 15 albums in his name, aside from collaborations with his sons.
In 2006, after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, he and his son Branford joined in building 72 homes for displaced artists in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans. Alongside them were volunteers for Habitat for Humanity and Harry Connick Jr., a native of New Orleans. In January, Ellis Jr. retired from performing jazz music.
Musicians who Died due to Coronavirus
As there are now more than 900,000 cases and over 40,000 deaths, the music industry was not only affected economically and culturally; the pandemic has also claimed the lives of some key players in the industry.
The musicians who died of coronavirus complications according to a report from New York Post are:
1.) Manu Dibango, jazz singer and saxophonist. He died last March 24 at the age of 86.
2.) Terrence McNally, playwright. He also died last March 24 at the age of 81. He also has a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
3.) Joe Diffie, country singer. He died last March 29 at the age of 61.
4.) Alan Merrill, singer, and songwriter. He died last March 29 at the age of 69.
5.) Wallace Roney, jazz trumpeter. He died yesterday at the age of 59, according to his fiancée Dawn Felice Jones.
6.) Adam Schlesinger, songwriter, and member of Fountains of Wayne. He died yesterday at the age of 52.