Feb 8, 2010
Sir John Dankworth, the British jazz composer, saxophonist and band leader, died on Saturday at the age of 82. Jazz singer Dame Cleo Laine - who married Dankworth in 1958 after meeting during an audition for a spot with his band - announced her husband's death before the finale of an anniversary concert at The Stables, the theatre they founded together.
Born in Woodford, Essex in 1927, Dankworth began his musical career by playing a clarinet bought by his mother.
"I loved music, but I didn't want to be taught music, or learn anything, until my parents gave me up for lost, really, and that was when I was about 15," he told the BBC. "Then I eventually just heard some jazz."
After starting out as a fan of Benny Goodman, Dankworth switched to the saxophone after hearing Charlie Parker play. In the early 1950s, Dankworth was auditioning singers to front his ensemble when he met Laine. They married and had a son, Alec, and daughter Jacqui - both jazz musicians who played the anniversary concert on Saturday evening.
Laine was made a dame in 1997, and Dankworth was knighted in 2006 by the Queen for services to music.
Along with performing and composing - his film score credits include"Darling," "Modesty Blaise" (click here to listen to the theme) and the theme of television's "The Avengers" - Dankworth worked as musical director for jazz greats, including Oscar Peterson, Nat (King) Cole and Ella Fitzgerald.