Al Hirt Ailing After Stroke
NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Jazz trumpeter
Al Hirt is in failing health in a New Orleans hospital after suffering
a stroke, friends said Thursday.
The 76-year old musician was listed in
serious condition at East Jefferson General Hospital in suburban Metairie,
La., a hospital spokeswoman said.
Clarinetist Pete Fountain told Reuters
the prognosis was not good for Hirt, who won a 1963 Grammy for the pop
hit ``Java'' but was best known for his swinging Dixieland jazz.
``I spoke to his wife just yesterday and
he's not doing too well. I told her 'maybe he'll bounce back,' but she
said the doctors said no,'' he said of his long-time friend.
Hirt has been in the hospital for about
two weeks, Fountain said. He said Hirt also had a liver ailment and has
been in a wheelchair for more than a year because of knee problems.
Booking agent Jim Maxwell said Hirt had
continued to play at New Orleans clubs until very recently, even though
he had to be wheeled on to the stage.
``I had him booked for date about a week
ago and they called and canceled. I haven't heard anything since then except
that old Al was still in the hospital,'' he said.
A telephone recording at Hirt's office
said Hirt ``spent a good day yesterday and was in good spirits,'' but gave
no further information about his condition.
Hirt, whose full name is Alois Maxwell
Hirt, played with Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey and Benny Goodman in the 1940s
before forming his own group in the early 1950s in New Orleans.
He and Fountain, both New Orleans natives,
often played together during that time.
``He and I have been knowing each other
55 years. I play clarinet and he toots a horn and our careers took off
at the same time,'' said Fountain, who is 68.
Maxwell said Hirt was a ``trumpet virtuoso''
who can play all of types of music, including classical, Dixieland jazz
During the 1960s, he recorded a string
of pop hits, including ``Java'' and ``Cotton Candy,'' that made him one
of the best-known musicians of his era. He was selected World's Top Trumpeter
15 times by Playboy Magazine.
He recorded 55 albums -- including four
that went gold and one platinum -- and played at Carnegie Hall in a sold-out
1965 concert. He also had roles in several films, including the 1962 ''Rome
Adventure'' with Suzanne Pleshette and Troy Donahue.
Hirt ran a popular French Quarter nightclub
for 22 years before closing it in 1983.
Jazz trumpeter Al Hirt down
for the count
NEW ORLEANS (CNN) -- Legendary
jazz trumpeter Al Hirt has been
hospitalized after becoming ill at his
home three weeks ago, and reports
indicate that his condition is serious.
Family members did not reveal the exact
illness, or which hospital was caring for
the 76-year-old trumpeter.
Hirt recorded more than 50 albums
during his long career, won a Grammy, played Las Vegas and Carnegie
Hall, and had his own TV variety show. He also ran a nightclub in New
Orleans' French Quarter for 22 years.