News 88.9 KNPR
Classical 89.7 KCNV

member station

Coronavirus Live Updates

Jazz Guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli Dies From The Coronavirus Age 94


Bucky Pizzarelli
Rich Schultz, AP

Bucky Pizzarelli

Bucky Pizzarelli, a tasteful sage of jazz guitar who spent the first phase of his career as a prolific session player and the last phase as a celebrated patriarch, died on Wednesday in Saddle River, N.J. He was 94.

Guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli, his oldest son and regular musical partner, said the cause was the coronavirus.

Pizzarelli was revered for the technical aplomb that enabled him to combine intricate runs, full chordal accompaniment and even his own walking bass lines. His rock-solid rhythmic footing and broad harmonic understanding were hallmarks of a warmly understated style that always drew attention to the song he was playing, rather than the playing itself.

During Pizzarelli's years of commercial studio work in the 1950s and '60s, he played on hundreds of recordings like Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and Ray Charles' "Georgia On My Mind." Pizzarelli began to gain more recognition in jazz circles during the 1970s, establishing a guitar duo formula with George Barnes that he'd continue for the rest of his life with other impeccable partners.

Click here to read the full obituary

Support comes from

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit

You won’t find a paywall here. Come as often as you like — we’re not counting. You’ve found a like-minded tribe that cherishes what a free press stands for.  If you can spend another couple of minutes making a pledge of as little as $5, you’ll feel like a superhero defending democracy for less than the cost of a month of Netflix.

More Stories

Roberta Flack in 1975. Flack's impact as a performer in the pop music space in the 1970s was sudden and massive. Over the next four decades, Flack built a legacy on a quiet belief in limitlessness.
Feb 10, 2020

The Virtuoso

KNPR's State of Nevada
Mar 29, 2006

Bucky's Law