Harold Battiste, New Orleans Jazz Great, Dies at 83

Harold Battiste, New Orleans Jazz Great, Dies at 83

Musician passes away after a lengthy battle with his health.

Published June 20, 2015

Music has lost a pillar, as Harold Battiste, a pioneer of the New Orleans jazz scene, passed away recently after a long battle with his health. He was 83.

Battiste, who helped propel the careers of artist likes Sam Cooke, Sonny and Cher and Dr. John, died on Friday (June 19), according to the Times-Picayune. While a specific cause of death has not yet been determined, the musician is said to have had a history of health problems in the past. In 1993, he suffered a stroke, which limited his ability to play the saxophone. From then on, his health continued to deteriorate.


Harold Battiste was known for his multifaceted musical style. He served as a saxophonist, pianist, arranger, producer and educator throughout his six-decade career. He also made music history after he founded A.F.O. (All For One) Records, New Orleans' first musicians-owned label.

Some of the most prominent projects that he has worked on include Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come," Barbara George's "I Know (You Don't Love Me No More)," and Ellis Marsalis' first album, Monkey Puzzle. He also worked with then-musical duo Sonny and Cher for 15 years, where, during that time, he contributed the soprano sax melody to their iconic hit "I Got You Babe."

Later in his career, in 1989, he took his expertise to the classroom and joined the jazz studies faculty at the University of New Orleans. He was well qualified as he had earned a degree in music education from Dillard University in 1952.

Our condolences to Harold Battiste's friends, family and fans.

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(Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Written by Moriba Cummings


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