Joey DeFrancesco, iconic jazz musician, dies at 51, possible cause of death revealed

Iconic jazz musician Joey DeFrancesco died Aug. 25 at his residence, his wife and manager Gloria DeFrancesco announced via social media. He was 51 years old.

“The love of my life is now at peace with the angels. Thank you for the outpouring of love and support from everywhere. Joey loved you all,” the post read.

Reports indicate that DeFrancesco suffered from general health issues, but the exact cause of his death has yet to be revealed by his family. According to Medico Topics, sources have shared that DeFrancesco has been battling “life-threatening health issues for some time” now. As of this writing, this information has been withheld from the public,

DeFrancesco was best known as a genius on the Hammond B3 organ, as well as a brilliant trumpeter and saxophonist, and occasional vocalist. He was named the best player on the Hammond organ, said to have been responsible for the “soul jazz revitalization” of the instrument.

Roots in Jazz

Born and raised in Philadelphia, DeFrancesco began playing at the age of four, under the watchful eye of his father, organist John DeFrancesco.

He comes from a family of musicians that included three generations of jazz musicians. His grandfather and namesake was an organist who received the Living Legend Award in 2013 from the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame.

He began playing alongside saxophonist Hank Mobley and Philly Joe Jones, well-known jazz musicians of the time, at the age of 10.

DeFrancesco’s life was entirely devoted to music. He graduated from high school on a scholarship offered by the Philadelphia Jazz Society and went to the Philadelphia School for the Creative and Performing Arts.

According to reports, he has been very successful in the field and has won many awards. He was a finalist in the first Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition.

At 16, he already signed his first recording contract under Columbia Records and started touring with his own band at 18.

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Left too early

In his short life, DeFrancesco has managed to release over 30 albums, with his latest album, “More Music”, released just over a year ago.

He is also a four-time Grammy nominee, a nine-time Down Beat Critics Poll winner for organ, and numerous JazzTimes Awards.

He was inducted into the Hammond Hall of Fame for his groundbreaking and innovative contributions in 2013.

His passing is deeply mourned by musicians and fans: “There is simply no way to understand this loss. […] “He was such a magnificent human being. He was just incomparable. But that’s too soft a word,” said Joel Goldenthal, executive director of the Nash in Phoenix, a venue where DeFrancesco often performed.

“There never was and never will be anyone as accomplished as he was on any instrument.”

Despite his success, Goldenthal also noted that DeFrancesco was a down-to-earth and very modest person. DeFrancesco’s passing is also a loss for the jazz world, he added.

“Few jazz artists in any era have ever dominated the musical language and popular image of an instrument the way DeFrancesco did with the organ,” NPR said.

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