Clark’s Surgery and Remembering His Friends

Clark’s surgery was successful! His vascular surgeon, Dr. Heather LeBlanc, was pleased that there were no complications following the amputation of his left leg on Thursday, February 23rd.  After twenty-four hours in the Intensive Care Unit, Clark was transferred to a hospital room on Friday, where he continued to improve and his spirit remained high.

The next day he was hit with the news that his dear friend “Brother” Red Holloway had passed away in California. Clark was quite saddened. After a while, he said, “I’ve lost one of the best friends that I’ve ever had. He was like a brother to me.” They had been in touch with each other until two weeks ago, when Red called and said that he was going to a rehabilitation hospital, and he would call back later. Clark said, “I’m really going to miss him. We spent lots of time together. Played lots of gigs.”

The last time that they played together was at the “2007 Clark Terry Jazz Festival,” sponsored by the Department of Music at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. As one of the featured celebrity artists on stage and in master classes, Red brought the house down with his signature rendition of “Locksmith Blues.” To hear an earlier recording of it, click here.

Hours later, while Clark was trying to accept the sad news about Red, we were told that Maurice Andre had passed away in France. Clark couldn’t talk about it initially. Later he said, “Maurice was a great trumpeter. A great musician. One of my all-time favorites. We had a lot of respect and admiration for each other.” To see one of Maurice’s youTube performances, click here.

Maurice’s quote that is published within the first few pages of Clark’s autobiography says, “The one I admire without restriction is Clark Terry, whose pronunciation at the trumpet or bugle is a model of sharpness, clearness, and authority. A model which is given with generosity to all of those who want to play this instrument…the way it should be played.

In the midst of recuperating from surgery, to have heard such sad news was quite challenging for Clark, as you can imagine, especially since it had only been a month earlier when he’d heard the news that his long-time friend John Levy had passed away just months before his one-hundredth birthday. Clark said, “John was such a beautiful cat. A master musician and a beautiful friend.” If you’d like to post a remembrance message for John, please visit

When Mike Vax drove from Tyler, Texas on Sunday, between gigs from his multi-state clinic tour, to visit with Clark in the hospital, it was truly a God-send. Clark’s face lit up when he heard Mike’s voice and they hugged each other. They talked about the days back in the ‘70’s when they were on tour with Clark’s Big Bad Band, laughing about some of the road challenges they had gone through, and the incredible times they’d shared.

It was exactly what Clark needed to lift his spirit. Mike shared some CD’s of recordings they had made, made speakerphone calls to some of their friends, played his trumpet, and talked about how much he loves Clark’s book. He said, “I was cracking up when I read the first few chapters. It reads like you’re sitting there talking to me, Clark.  I wanted to bring it with me on this tour, but Peg (his wife) wanted to read it, too. So, I’m going to download a copy on my computer.” For more information about Mike, please visit his website at:

Clark and Mike Vax

Mike was very complimentary of Clark’s Van Dyke beard, and he took lots of photos. He didn’t ask about Clark’s missing front tooth that mysteriously disappeared about a month ago. When I asked Clark where it was, he said, “I ate it.” I asked him how it tasted, and he said, “Stale.”

I found out later that he didn’t really eat it, but no one knew where it was. It was an old implant that had come out several times before, so I guess we’ll make a visit to his dentist when Clark is home and feeling better.

Mike and I shared some of the posts on Clark’s website, which always makes Clark smile, and we discussed the rehabilitation that has been recommended by Dr. Simmie Armstrong. Rehab is necessary to help improve Clark’s upper-body strength and provide new maneuvering techniques. Clark said, “I can do those exercises at home,” but we encouraged him to work with the professionals at the hospitals for maximum results. Finally, after a very long discussion, Clark said, “Okay, I’ll do it.”

Please join us in prayer for the families of Red, Maurice, and John, as we remember them and continue to celebrate their incredible contributions in music. Also, please continue praying for Clark’s recovery, and know that your posts on his website make a huge impact toward keeping his spirit high.

We love you, and we thank God for you all!


| general | 29 Comments

29 Responses to Clark’s Surgery and Remembering His Friends

  1. Boaz Kim says:

    Dear Clark,
    You are an inspiration to me as a trumpeter, improviser, and entertainer. I just found out about your autobiography, and I’m buying it right now:) I hope to see you perform in a person. Get well very soon!
    -a fan

  2. Boaz Kim says:

    Dear Clark,
    You are an inspiration to me as a trumpeter, improviser, and entertainer. I just found out about your autobiography, and I’m buying it right now:) I hope to see you perform in a person. Get well very soon!
    -a fan

  3. Marc Berner says:

    God bless you always, Clark! Keep smiling and heal quickly.

    With love,

  4. Hi Clark and Gwen.

    Mike Vax has been keeping me up to date on your recovery, as has Nick Mondello. I pray for your continued recovery. Leg or no leg, it is that pair of lips of yours that have made all the difference for so long!

    One day soon, I would love to talk to you about how you “put up” with Mike on that tour of Europe. He may have told you we are writing a book. It would be an honor to have a quote or two from one of my (and all of us!) personal heroes.

    You are one of the reasons I’ve stuck around playing on this foolish and stubborn piece of tubing all these years!

    Mark Schwartz

  5. Chaska Daniels says:

    Dear Mr. Terry,

    First, I want to tell you that I am sorrry and saddened to hear of your recent lost friends. I am praying for those families for you and also for your healing powers to come from above with God’s Grace and Mercy and favor upon you. I attended the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff on a full ride scholarship under Dr. Harold Strong and Odie Burris Jr, playing Trumpet from August 78 through May 83, 1st Chair trumpet. You have been my favorite trumpet player and I hope to meet you one day soon. May God bless you and keep you forever and ever. Your friend always, Chaska
    “And the Trumpet Shall Sound”.

  6. Fabian Acuna says:

    Dear Clark,

    Much love your way. I’m so glad to hear that your operation was a success. This is going to give me much inspiration for my practice today thank you! I’m so sorry to hear about those who had passed away but they shall always be here and be remembered for their great contribution to society. I truly wish the best of fastest recovery and all my prayers are going to you. I am still determined to hopefully see you one day and wish you all the best.

    Much love,
    Fabian Acuna

  7. Bill West says:

    Dear Clark,
    Just gotta add my words of thanks, love and gratitude for your inspiration to me over the past, oh I guess, sixty years or so. You’ve been my trumpet hero since the Ellington days, and now you’re my “life” hero. too. Here in the backwoods of Arizona (Prescott),I’m blessed to be around a few old colleagues of yours — Mike Vax and Jack Petersen — and I treasure their tales of times with you. At 84 I’m still playing, still trying to follow your lead in music and in life. Keep showing us the way, CT!

    Bill West

  8. Dear Clark,
    Just wanted to say that we’re all thinking about you-all your musicians friends and fans-and hope that you’re getting better ev’ry day in ev’ry way.
    I played “Up And Down” for the jazz history class recently and, as always, you knocked them out with your wit, musicality and humour. You are so special to me and everyone lucky enough to know you personally and musically!

  9. We love you Clark!! We are all praying for you out here in California. We know Snooky is watching over you too…
    We hope for you continued recovery…(Hi Gwen!)

    God Bless Always!!.
    Judy (Snooky’s Daughter), Tony, Bunny, Melanie, Danny & the whole Family!!

  10. Tom Smith says:

    Clark, I am sending love to you! You tooth tasting stale, you are always so funny! I remember getting your autograph in Dan Morgenstern’s wonderful Jazz Giants book, I opened the book to your 1956 photo, and you said, “That’s no me that’s my dad”!
    We are all thinking of you, you are THE BEST!!

  11. Nancy Vanhaverbeke says:

    Dear Gwen and Clark,
    In few days it will be the 1st “anniversary” of my dad’s death, EARS … So it reminds me I talked to you Uncle Clark before this sad happening and I felt so “frustrated” to be so far away and not to be able to give you a “big hugg” !!!
    I’m so happy to read all those good news about you CT, you were there when I was a child … I see you’re married to Gwen for 20 years !! Incredible, all those years we didn’t see !! 20 years is the anniversary my oldest son Dewi will have this year !!!
    Gwen, I really thank you to give this short message to my Uncle Clark ! I won’t repeat all the great things other people are telling about CT and his music ! I can only confirm and say he even deserves much more !!! What I just want to say is that Clark will remain for me a real sincere friend of my dad, my mum, me and I feel so proud about that and I keep this as a “precious gift” !!! It was a privilege to share pieces of my modest life with you ! To be at your home in 1976 in NY then this short trip to Atlantic City in 1983 but much much more wonderful moments when I was a child !! Including when you were playing with your small jewel trumpet with my “pupets”.
    Dear Uncle Clark, I will never forget those precious moments. I hope you still remember some of them …
    Gwen and Clark, I can only bless you and wish you minutes, hours, years … of joy and happiness … and love !!
    Nancy, Ear’s daughter

  12. Pete Hittle says:

    You’re in my prayers EVERY day Mr. Terry! I’m about 2/3rds of the way through your book and thoroughly enjoying this wonderful chronicle of your amazing life. I still consider playing on stage with you at Morningside College back in 1976 the highlight of my playing career. Pete Hittle (Adam Schroeders teacher in middle/high school…)

  13. Mike Vax says:

    What else can you say but “What an inspiration” both Clark and Gwen are! Between his health problems and his loss of friends, he still “Keeps on, Keepin’ ON.” As Gwen said, we had some great laughs and reminisces about being on the road with his Big Bad Band back in the late 70’s. Gwen is a great psychologist! She read to Clark from his book about his rehab after the back operation and how he didn’t want to do it, but it did make all the difference for his recovery. At first he didn’t want to go through that again, but with lots of encouragement from all of us, I guess he has now consented to do the rehab. It is truly the best thing for him. It was also great fun to talk to many old friends by cell phone with Clark and Gwen. What a great visit!!!! (And a bit of a rest from a pretty grueling month long tour.)

  14. Dear Clark,
    I am so glad that your surgery went so well and that you are in such good spirits. You are such a hero-musically and personally-to so many of us so fortunate to know you! We’ve been playing the chart of “Tulip Or Turnip” written for you and your spirit permeates the rehearsal room every time!
    Alan and Riina

  15. Michael "Migueligans" Miller says:

    Dear Clark,

    Noah and I are sitting here (with Josh in spirit), smiling that you’re doing well, and just knowing you’ll be getting better & better every day. We hope you will be getting your AWOL tooth replaced soon so that you can get back to the business of playing your trumpet!

    We cherish all the many wonderful times we’ve shared with you and Gwen, and we look forward to the time when we can all bask on Beech St. together again…

    Sending you oodles (and doodles) of love…

    Michael, Noah (and Josh in spirit)!

  16. Jon Bates says:

    Clark, I can never adequately express my appreciation to you for how much your kind and gentle spirit, your abundant energy, wisdom and wit, and the joy and inspiration your music has given me over the years, has truly enriched my life. I am so very grateful for the time I was able to spend with you over the years, and thank you for making the world a much better place than it ever could have been without you.
    With love and fond regards, Jon Bates

  17. Valerie Bishop says:

    one of the first people i thought of was Clark when i heard about Red. i really wished he didn’t have to hear the sad news about his long-time friend. i also wish i had $100 for every laugh they shared together through the years; i’d be able to retire quite comfortably!!! and of course i thought about Clark when John passed. fortunately, i was able to hang a bit with John and Devra just weeks before he left us. i first met both these men in 1970 and am grateful for that.

    am so glad that Clark has begun his recovery and rehab. i’m “blinded” by the spirit you guys send forth to us, your loving and faithful fans.

    wishing i could hug both of you. sending continued love and prayers.


    valerie bishop

  18. Matt Taton says:

    Keep Smilin’ CT. Glad to hear your surgery was successful. Here’s to a speedy recovery!!

  19. Kim Doran says:

    God Bless and a speedy recovery to you CT! Love to You, Gwen and The Family! 🙂

  20. Robin Lloyd says:

    Had lunch this weekend with Stix Hooper, and he sends along his best wishes for you, Cee Tee. Me too! People all over the world are thinking of you, praying for you and pulling for you today.

    Big hugs and many kisses,