Bucky Pizzarelli, famed jazz guitarist and former member of the Tonight Show orchestra, died Wednesday after testing positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). He was 94.
Bucky Pizzarelli Bio, Wiki
Bucky Pizzarelli was an American jazz guitarist. He was the father of jazz guitarist John Pizzarelli and double bassist Martin Pizzarelli. He worked for NBC as a staffman for Dick Cavett and ABC with Bobby Rosengarten in.
Pizzarelli was born on January 9, 1926, in Paterson, New Jersey. Pizzarelli learned to play guitar and banjo at an early age. his aunt, Pete, and Bobby Dominic were professional musicians and sometimes gathered at one of their houses with their guitars for an extended family jam session.
An inspiration he refers to as Moe, a blind accordion player who led the circle that also included Pizzarelli’s uncle Bobby Dominic. During high school, Pizzarelli was a small band guitarist who performed classical music.
He began his professional career in 17 years when he joined the Owen Monroe Dance Band in 1944. In 1952, Pizzarelli became an NBC staff musician, playing with Scotch Henderson. In 1964, he became a member of The Tonight Show band on the Tonight Show, starring Johnny Carson. During his time performing for the show today, he played with guest bands and musicians on a variety of musical genres, including playing with Tiny Tim when Tiny Tim performed on Carson’s show.
Wife and Children
He was married to his wife Ruth Pizzarelli in 1954. His son John is a well-known jazz guitarist and vocalist. His son Martin is a professional bassist who has recorded with his father and brother. His daughter Mary is a classical guitarist. He appeared on her father’s third album as a leader, Green Guitar Blues, as well as other recordings. Pizzarelli also appeared on three albums of his daughter-in-law (John’s wife), Jessica Molaskey.
Death Cause (COVID-19)
Bucky Pizzarelli died on April 1, 2020, after testing positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
His son, John Pizzarelli — also a jazz artist who toured and performed alongside his father — confirmed the news on Instagram Thursday, highlighting Bucky’s career highlights. John called Bucky a “wonderful dad.”
“My father was a mentor to so many guitarists both professional and amateur,” wrote John. “Always doling out advice, always encouraging, always in tune and always ready for a record date.”
He continued: “He was a wonderful dad. He was a decent bocce player, a New York football Giants fan and for some reason liked the Yankees. But, he was music first and foremost and it showed in his artistry.”
Bucky is also survived by his wife Ruth, daughters Anne Hymes and Mary Pizzarelli, another son, bassist Martin Pizzarelli, and four grandchildren.