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. thomas steel says:

    speaking as a trumpet player who was a better listener than a player thankyou for all the pleasure you have given me over all the years may God bless you

  2. David Hadley says:

    Please get better Mr Terry, You’ve been an inspiration for so many people. Keep playing and please get better. The world needs your inspiration and us rookie musicians need you.

  3. Wendell Gault says:

    Dear Clark & Gwen,

    I was fortunate to be at the tribute last month and it was truly a spectacular event. A very fitting homage to Clark. And speaking of tributes, my friend John McNeil was traveling on the day of the event, but had planned to have a video presented there on his behalf. It was subsequently decided, however, that there wouldn’t be enough time for individual comments/presentations. Otherwise, we’d all still be there!! Instead, John asked me to put up the video I shot of him talking about Clark on YouTube, which I have done. You can access it via the following link:

    Blessings to both of you,
    Wendell Gault

  4. bob r says:

    Hang in there, man. You’re the greatesf! Get well quick.

  5. Dick Karner says:

    God speed your recovery, Clark. Your the greatist!

  6. Peter L. Cho says:


    All of the faculty at the Louis Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp, where you taught with us a few years ago wish you a speedy recovery. You are in our thoughts and prayers.


    Peter L. Cho

  7. Sending you love, healing hugs, and thanks for all the inspiration, Clark!

  8. Johnny Greco says:


    Your teachings and techniques from your Jazz Institute have continued to help me in my performances. You are a wonderful person who has contributed so much to the school of jazz . Keep smiling and keep up your positive attitude. You’re an inspiration to me. I wish you a speedy recovery.

  9. massimo manzi says:

    God Bless You Clark, thanks forever for your artistry !! Have a nice spring and many seasons to come in the best way ! Hugs from Italy.