Denver’s mainstay of the jazz saxophone passed away at the age of 89 due to complications from the Coronavirus.
We all loved Freddy as the gatekeeper of Denver’s famed jazz nightclub El Chapultepec. Such an insightful and warm family man dedicated to both family and music.
Freddy is featured prominently in Ben Makinen’s feature film JazzTown: Raised in Denver and the bread lines in the 30s, living in LA in the 60s, and moving back to Denver in the 70s; how he got the gig at the Pec, and more!
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Andrew Hudson: On behalf of Freddy Rodriguez, Jr., and his entire family, it is my great sadness to share that the great Freddy Rodriguez, Sr., has passed away due to complications from Covid-19. Freddy recently turned 89-years-old and was without question one of the deans of Denver’s jazz world.
The Rodriguez family is asking you to respect their privacy at this time, but when possible, they will be holding a large public memorial/jam session in tribute.
He played his saxophone at the El Chapultepec for 40 years hosting some of the ‘who’s who’ of both Denver’s finest jazz musicians as well as the big name traveling jazz musicians who would always step into the ‘Pec to play a song or a set with Freddy. Not only was Freddy a fine musician, he was a fine human being. He met his wife more than 70-years-ago in junior high school. He was a wonderful father and grandfather and friend to all.
On a personal note, the first time I ever performed with Freddy, I was 15-years-old. I had snuck out late at night and hung out at the side door on Market street to hear the music. During a break I talked to him and he let me come sit in on some blues. What an honor when I became one of his main bass players. For almost 20 years now, I’ve been a regular at the ‘Pec with him, his son, Freddy Jr., and Tony Black. My last gig with him was 2 weeks-ago.
We are all heartbroken. Please share your stories and memories and I’ll pass them on.
Hold each other tight. We will get through this.
Please click on this link to see a great tribute to Freddy.
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Other Notable Musicians’ Deaths…
25: Detto Mariano, 82, Italian musician (I Ribelli) and composer, COVID-19.
24: Manu Dibango, 86, Cameroonian saxophonist (“Soul Makossa”), COVID-19; Terrence McNally, 81, American playwright (Ragtime, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Love! Valour! Compassion!) and screenwriter, Tony winner (1993, 1995, 1996), COVID-19; Anatoliy Mokrenko, 87, Ukrainian opera singer; Bill Rieflin, 59, American rock drummer (Ministry, Revolting Cocks, King Crimson), cancer.
23: Tres Warren, 41, American singer and guitarist (Psychic Ills).
22: Gabi Delgado-López, 61, Spanish-born German musician (Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft); Julie Felix, 81, American-British folk singer; Mike Longo, 83, American jazz pianist, COVID-19; Carmen de Mairena, 87, Spanish actress, cuplé singer and television personality; Peter Stapleton, 65, New Zealand musician (The Terminals, Dadamah, Flies Inside the Sun); Eric Weissberg, 80, American folk musician (“Dueling Banjos”, The Tarriers), complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
21: Ray Mantilla, 85, American percussionist, complications from lymphoma; Hellmut Stern, 91, German violinist.
20: Enrique del Portal, 87, Spanish operatic tenor, gastroenteritis; Muhterem Nur, 87, Turkish actress and singer; Kenny Rogers, 81, American Hall of Fame singer (“The Gambler”, “Just Dropped In”, “Islands in the Stream”), songwriter and actor; Jerry Slick, 80, American rock drummer (The Great Society) and cinematographer (death announced on this date); Gino Volpe, 77, Italian singer-songwriter, heart attack.
19: Black N Mild, 44, American bounce music deejay, COVID-19; Aurlus Mabélé, 66, Congolese singer and composer, stroke and COVID-19.
18: Wray Downes, 89, Canadian jazz pianist; Kenneth Kafui, 68, Ghanaian composer; Jean Leber, 70–71, French violinist, COVID-19; Sir John Tooley, 95, British opera administrator, general director of the Royal Opera House (1970–1988).
17: Gerald Freedman, 92, American theatre director, librettist and lyricist; Hsiao Feng Hsien, 79, Taiwanese operatic singer and actress; Thái Thanh, 85, Vietnamese-American singe; Lyle Waggoner, 84, American actor (The Carol Burnett Show, Wonder Woman, Love Me Deadly), cancer.
16: Sergio Bassi, 69, Italian folk singer-songwriter, COVID-19; Jason Rainey, 53, American guitarist (Sacred Reich); Konstantin Ryabinov [ru], 55, Russian musician (Grazhdanskaya Oborona) and visual artist (Kommunizm).