In response to Zac’s letter (see Inbox), I did some research on musicians dying during a set. Although he survived the attack, Cab Calloway was stabbed by Dizzy Gillespie. Here is how it was reported:
Most of you probably know that Dizzy Gillespie stabbed Cab Calloway back in 1941. Here is how the Baltimore Afro-American (27 September 1941, p. 15) reported the incident:
Cab Calloway Stabbed in Arm
HARTFORD, Conn. – Cab Calloway, scat-singing orchestra leader, was stabbed in the arm and hip at a local radio station Sunday night, allegedly by John (Dizzy) Gillespie, a member of the orchestra. Reports are that Calloway suspected Gillespie of having hit him in the face with a spit-ball just before Cab’s Quizzicale program was to go on the air. The altercation took place after the broadcast.
Other comments include:
Dizzy stabbed him on the butt – because it would take so long to heal.
Cab dropped his pants to show the scar to a bunch of us in the lobby of the Blackstone Hotel.
Cab slapped him first!
According to some sources it transpired later that it wasn’t Dizzy after all who had thrown the spit-ball but rather Jonah Jones!
This incident was well-covered in DeVeaux’s Birth of Bebop book.
If you read Milt Hinton’s interview with Gene Lees, you get the impression that Dizzy was trying to kill Cab – but Curley was adamant (and as I recall he got it directly from Dizzy) that Dizzy just wanted to inflict pain, to a part of the body that would be resistant to healing.
The big tragedy in that band occurred only one month later, when Chu Berry was killed in a car accident.
So, there was no death in that story. But here’s one from a few years ago:
By Randy Jeffries/Weekly World News (January 23, 1996)
Bocholt, Germany – A band musician died of a brain injury when the trombonist behind him jerked the slide of his trombone forward and struck the trumpeter in the back of the head!
Police say the tragedy occurred as the Gratzfeld College band was rehearsing the spirited American jazz classic, When the Saints Go Marching In.
According to the other band members, trombonist Peter Niemeyer, 19, ‘got carried away’ with the music. He started gyrating and thrashing around as he played.
At one point, he jerked forward and the rounded metal slide on his instrument hit trumpet player Dolph Mohr, 20, dropping him instantly to the floor.
“Niemeyer was pumping the slide very hard,” said medical examiner Dr. Max Krause. “But it wasn’t just the force of the blow that killed Mohr.
“The slide struck him in the worst possible place – the vulnerable spot just behind and below the left ear. “Bone fragments pierced his brain, killing him instantly.”
The incident has provoked a storm of controversy over whether or not American jazz should be played in German colleges.
“I believe the music is to blame,” said Gratzfeld band director Heinrich Sommer. “I was pressured to play that selection by school administrators. But I’ve always said jazz is dangerous music, “Our musicians can’t control themselves when they play it. They move and rock back and forth, creating chaos. If I had my way, American Dixieland would be outlawed in Germany. I’ve been directing bands for 30 years and I’ve never heard of anyone dying while playing a German march.”
source: Joke Buddha