ENGLEWOOD, N.J. -- Happy birthday to Dizzy Gillespie, who, with his wife, called Englewood home from the mid '60s until his death. Gillespie would have turned 99 this Friday.
Born in South Carolina John Birks Gillespie, he inimitably played the trumpet, sang, composed and was a bandleader. He, like fellow trumpeter and singer Louis Armstrong, is known for his mightily puffed-out cheeks, as he played.
Gillespie continued to perform into his 70s. And he racked up awards over his decades-long career: France's preeminent cultural award, the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres; over a dozen honorary doctoral degrees; a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award; the Kennedy Center Honors Award; and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, among others.
He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in early 1992. As Bergen.com reported, as Gillespie was being treated at the Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, his treating doctor helped him fulfill a wish of making sure other musicians got the medical treatment they needed -- and the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund was born.
The Jazz Foundation of America says the fund has provided medical care worth over $5 million to over 1,000 of its uninsured musicians.
Gillespie died in 1993, at the age of 75, in Englewood.
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