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Al Hirt
Al Hirt
Stroke  Age 76
April 27, 1999
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OBITUARY 
        
       
 EONLINE
    Trumpeter Extraordinaire Al Hirt Dies 

                       by Marcus Errico 
                       April 27, 1999, 3:50 p.m. PT  

                       Virtuoso jazzman Al Hirt, the heralded King of the 
                       Trumpet, died Tuesday in his New Orleans home of 
                       liver failure. He was 76.  

                       Hirt racked up 21 Grammy nominations (winning in 
                       1964 for his signature song, "Java") and 50 albums 
                       (17 charted, four went gold, one platinum) in a 
                       career that spanned five decades.  

                       Born Alois Maxwell Hirt in his beloved New Orleans 
                       in 1922, Hirt was first schooled as a classical 
                       trumpeter and served an army bugler before landing 
                       gigs as a sideman in the swing bands of Benny 
                       Goodman, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey and Ray McKinley 
                       in the '40s. He returned to New Orleans in the 
                       '50s, blowing horn in his own dixieland combo, 
                       often teaming with clarinetist Pete Fountain.  

                       He hit his musical stride in the '60s, recording 
                       hits like "Java," "Sugar Lips" and "Cotton Candy." 
                       He played JFK's inauguration and packed 'em in at 
                       Carnegie Hall. An ever-smiling bear of a man at 
                       6-foot-2, 300 pounds, Hirt was a fixture on TV 
                       during the decade, even landing his own show, 
                       Fanfare, on CBS.  

                       Despite his acclaim, Hirt was frequently dissed by 
                       his jazz peers, who considered him something of a 
                       sell out, with his chart-topping smooth pop tunes. 
                       But he was unfazed ("I'm a pop musician," he said 
                       proudly, "and I've got a successful format") and 
                       continued cranking out records through the 1970s, 
                       despite a lip injury.  

                       Hirt never strayed too far from his Bourbon Street 
                       home--where he lived with his wife and eight 
                       kids--physically or musically: His dixieland roots 
                       influenced odes to his hometown like "New 
                       Orleans," "When the Saints Go Marching In" and 
                       "Bourbon Street Parade." He frequented jazz clubs 
                       in the French Quarter and, when Pope John Paul II 
                       visited the city, Hirt serenaded the pontiff with 
                       a rendition of "Ave Maria."  

                       The trumpeter had been in declining health for the 
                       past week--when he left his hospital bed to head 
                       back home. 

 
Earlier News Item 
Trumpeter 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 and pop. 

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. 

 
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