Eddie Jefferson: Age 60 | Cause Of Death: GUNSHOT
(b. August 1918, Detroit, MI, d. 9 May 1979, Detroit, MI)
Beginning his show business career as a dancer and occasional singer, Jefferson gradually concentrated on his latter talent. After achieving limited success, as a scat singer in the mid- to late ’40s, Jefferson was largely responsible for the creation of so-called ‘vocalese’, devising lyrics to fit solos originally improvised by leading jazz musicians. Among the solos to which Jefferson wrote words was that played on Body And Soul by Coleman Hawkins, Parker’s Mood by Charlie Parker, and James Moody’s version of I’m In The Mood For Love. Jefferson subsequently worked with Moody’s small group as both singer and manager, an association which lasted for almost 20 years. He continued to adapt solos by important musicians, including Miles Davis and Horace Silver.
~Music Central 96
In the early hours of Wednesday, May 9, 1979, jazz singer Eddie Jefferson was leaving Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, on Detroit’s north fringe, where he and his young partner, alto saxophonist Richie Cole, had just completed their opening night performance. Eddie may have had an ominous feeling, for he ended the set abruptly and called a cab. Jefferson, his road manager and a woman friend went outside; Cole and a fan followed soon after. An automobile parked in front of the club pulled up to the cab. The driver fired four shotgun blasts, one of which struck Eddie Jefferson in the chest. He staggered twenty-five feet and died. [Police later arrested 41-year-old Ameer Al-Meet Mujahiid, formerly William Perryman, a frustrated dancer and laid-off factory worker who had known Jefferson for about ten years in New York. But after a three-week trial, a jury brought in a verdict of not guilty]. Although the singer had been living in Queens, NY, he was buried in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA, where he still had family.
~Ira Steingroot’s liner notes for Prestige LP There I Go Again