Jazz Legend Pete Fountain Dies

Jazz has lost one of its giants as Pete Fountain, the legendary New Orleans clarinetist passed away early Saturday morning at 86. Fountain had recently suffered a stroke and undergone heart surgery. His home in Bay St. Louis was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. In the 1950s, Fountain was the bandleader for Lawrence Welk’s TV show but he left after two years to return to New Orleans. He would continue to make appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show. He ended up playing for four different U.S. presidents and in 1987 performed “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” at a Mass in New Orleans led by Pope John Paul II.