There’s no update yet on legendary songwriter John Prine, who was reported to be in critical care on a respirator with the COVID-19 coronavirus. But the disease has now claimed the lives of two other highly-respected musicians.
Jazz pianist and teacher Ellis Marsalis Jr. has died in New Orleans at 85 after being hospitalized with symptoms of the disease, although it has yet to be confirmed. Marsalis was not only a legendary New Orleans jazz man in his own right, he was the teacher and mentor to generations of star players, such as Harry Connick Jr. and Irvin Mayfield, as well as his famous sons, Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason Marsalis. To show how much he helped advance the art of jazz, his sons now play with symphony orchestras. But he once recalled that during his youth studying classical piano at Dillard University, "you could get expelled for playing jazz. The dean would get a report that we were over there ruining pianos playing jazz on them.”
And the deadliness of the virus is not limited to the elderly, the sick or those with poor health care. The rock music world was shocked Wednesday at news that singer/songwriter Adam Schlesinger had died of COVID-19 complications at 52. Schlesinger was one of the rare talents who nearly earned “EGOT” status: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony. He was an Emmy winner for his music for the TV show “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend;” a Grammy winner with his ‘90s pop/rock band Fountains of Wayne; Tony nominee for his score for the musical “Cry-Baby;” and Oscar nominee for the early Beatles-style theme song of Tom Hanks’ 1997 directorial debut, “That Thing You Do.”
Our prayers for their families and condolences to their many fans.