Henry Grimes, jazz bassist, dead at 84 of coronavirus complications

Henry Grimes, the multi-instrumentalist whose career in jazz music spanned more than 60 years, has died of complications related to the coronavirus. He was 84.

His wife Margaret Davis Grimes confirmed the news to the Jazz Foundation of America, WBGO reports.

In the 1950s, the bassist performed alongside jazz greats including Sonny Rollins, Don Cherry, Billy Higgins, and Cecil Taylor. Through the ’60s, he dabbled in the avant garde, performing with he late McCoy Tyner, Albert Ayler and others.

The late ’60s also brought financial turmoil for Grimes, who would have to sell his pawn his double bass for cash, Pitchfork reports.

The musician had all-but faded into obscurity until 2002, when a social worker named Marshall Marrotte tracked him down using court records and other public documents. At that time, Grimes had no instrument to his name — which prompted fellow improvisational bassist William Parker to give Grimes a green-painted bass he’d dubbed Olive Oil.

In 2003, he returned to the stage for the first time decades, at the Vision Festival in New York City. From then on, he continued to play live shows and host student workshops throughout the 2010s.

In a 2012 interview, Grimes told music outlet For Bass Players Only, “I never gave up on music, not for a minute. You could say I was absent for a long time, but I always believed I would be back one day. I just couldn’t see the way to get there, but I knew it would happen.”

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