Henry Grimes, American jazz double-bassist, violinist, and poet, passed away on April 15, according to a report from WBGO. The reason cited was due to complications from the COVID-19 illness. He was 84. 

The sad news was confirmed by Margaret Davis Grimes, his wife, to the Jazz Foundation of America, which had been supporting the medical care of the legendary multi-instrumentalist. Grimes was confined at the Northern Manhattan Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Harlem when he died.

Grimes was widely revered for his works with Benny Goodman, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Pharoah Sanders, Cecile Taylor, Lee Konitz, Archie Shepp, Gerry Mulligan, McCoy Tyner, and many others during the 1950s and '60s. He is best known for mastering the strings of the bass. He also played the violin.

The Life and Career of Henry Grimes

The Juilliard-educated double-bassist was active during the '50s and '60s but faded away from the music scene after that. In 1968, Henry Grimes left New York City and rode with drummer Clarence Becton to San Francisco. Both the artists journeyed to play in gigs with Al Jarreau, Jon Hendricks, and many others. Left with much nothing to do after the stints, he traveled to Los Angeles to find means for survival.  

He lived with the pianist Lamont Johnson and other musicians working with Lamont while he worked on his own. The group, who were followers of Scientology, left LA but without Grimes. He did not want to join them. The damage or cracks on his bass brought by his travels prevented bum from playing the instrument anymore. He brought it in to be repaired, but due to the steep cost, he decided to leave his loved bass. The repairman, in return, offered to buy it from him at a minimal fee. Grimes agreed and believed he would claim it again later. But that was never the case. Nothing was heard from him since that time. Rumors of his death went around in 1986.

Henry Grimes, who had nothing much rented a tiny room in LA, doing odd jobs that are not music-related. During this time, he found himself writing poetry, philosophy, and metaphysics. He went on studying yoga.  

In December 2002, fellow bassist William Parker rediscovered Grimes and gifted him a green-colored bass, which was called Olive Oil. It was a fitting replacement for what Grimes had given up 30 years back. It signaled his comeback. In the early part of 2003, armed with his new bass, he began filling the concert halls again with Joseph Jarman, Nels and Alex Cline, and others. He performed once more at Billy Higgin's World Stage, the Jazz Bakery, the Howling Monk, and Schindler House in the Los Angeles area.

Grimes, finally back to his what he did best, returned back to New York City in May 2003. For two nights, he played as a special guest on the six-night Vision Festival. He began performing on live concerts and gave daily interviews on air for five days on WKCR Henry Grimes Radio Festival. Out of his generosity, he gave a bass clinic for 50 NY bassists who were amazed at his comeback.   

Permanently settled in July 2003 in New York, nothing stopped him from sharing his music once again. He joined tours in the U.S., Canada, Asia, and 20 European countries with musicians of today. Grimes also taught workshops and masterclasses at different music schools. Henry made his professional debut as a violinist with Cecil Taylor when he was 70. At the age of 71, he launched his book "Signs Along the Road."

Master jazz musician Henry Grimes is leaving the music industry with his legend, having played more than 615 concerts in 31 countries.

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