Jazz Guitarist John 'Bucky' Pizzarelli Dies at 94 From Coronavirus

Bucky Pizzarelli
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Bucky Pizzarelli plays guitar with the Ken Peplowski Quintet during the Jazz at Lincoln Center's 'American Anthems' concert at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola in New York on Nov. 23, 2011.

Jazz guitarist John “Bucky” Pizzarelli, who was inducted to the New Jersey Hall of Fame, has died at the age of 94. The virtuoso who had played for presidents at the White House during his long and esteemed career died Wednesday (April 1) at his home in Saddle River, New Jersey.

His family tells The New York Times they believe the cause of death was the coronavirus. And the Bergen Record reports that Pizzarelli tested positive for the virus on Sunday. “There will be some kind of tribute as soon as we can all get within 6 feet of each other,” his son John Pizzarelli, also a renowned jazz artist, told the Bergen Record on Thursday.

Pizzarelli was born in Paterson, New Jersey, and had a career that spanned eight decades. He showed off his musical chops for former presidents like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton and played alongside musical icons like Frank Sinatra.

“Jazz guitar wouldn’t be what it is today without Bucky Pizzarelli,” said jazz guitarist Frank Vignola. “He and Freddie Green were responsible for a style of rhythm guitar playing that has lasted until 2020.” Pizzarelli died with his wife, Ruth, his son Martin, and his caregiver at his side.