Toots Thielemans, Belgian jazz guitarist, whistler and harmonica player, Died at 94


Jean-Baptiste Frédéric Isidor, Baron Thielemans was born on April 29, 1922, in Brussels and died on August 22, 2016.

He was commonly known as Toots Thielemans.

He was a Belgian jazz musician.

Toots was known for his harmonica playing, as well as his guitar and whistling skills.
He started out his career as a guitar player.

During 1949, Toots joined a jam session in Paris with Sidney Bechet, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Max Roach and others.

During the year 1949 and 1950, he took part in European tours with Benny Goodman, making his first record in Stockholm with fellow band member, tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims.

Thielemans became a band member of the singer-songwriter and compatriot Bobbejaan Schoepen, in 1951.

During that time, he was still performing strictly as a guitarist.

After moving to the state he played and recorded with Ella Fitzgerald, Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius, Stephane Grappelli, J.J. Johnson, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Shirley Horn, and Joe Pass, among others.

And also (“I’m a singer”: The shadows of your smile) with Billy Eckstine.

And John Lennon bought his first Rickenbacker guitar after seeing Thielemans play it during a 1959 concert.

His work ‘A jazz standard by Toots Thielemans is “Bluesette,” where he used whistling and guitar in unison, which was initially recorded by him in 1962, with lyrics added by Norman Gimbel, the song became a major worldwide hit.

Toots had composed the music for the 1974 Swedish film Dunderklumpen! in which he also provided the voice of the animated character Pellegnillot.

Thielemans whistling and harmonica playing can be heard on Old Spice commercials that have been made over the years.

Toots was well liked for his modesty and kind demeanor in his native Belgium and was known for describing himself as a Brussels “ket,” which means “street kid” in old Brussels slang.

Thielemans received a joint honorary doctorate from the Université libre de Bruxelles and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium.

During 2001,he was raised into the Belgian nobility by King Albert II and given the noble title Baron for life, this in recognition of his contribution to music.

He died in Brussels, Belgium.

Toots Thielemans passed away at 94 years old.