Lionel Hampton

Died August 31st, 2002

NEW YORK, (Reuters) - Lionel Hampton, an American jazz icon who pioneered the vibraphone as a jazz instrument and whose musical career spanned six decades beginning in the late 1920s, died Saturday aged 94.

Hampton, who played with many of the leading lights of jazz from Louis Armstrong to Benny Goodman to Charlie Parker, died of heart failure at 6:15 a.m. Saturday at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.

Over his long career, Hampton wrote more than 200 pieces of music, including the jazz standards "Flying Home," "Evil Gal Blues" and "Midnight Sun." He was also an inspiration to countless jazz musicians, said Phil Leshin, 74, Hampton's manager, who worked with the great vibraphonist since 1960.

"People like Quincy Jones will tell you, that's who got him started," Leshin said. "Dinah Washington, that's who got her started. Joe Williams, that's who got him started. Charles Mingus, that's who got him started. They'll all tell you that. Except that most of them are dead. Except for Quincy."

"We learned a lot from him," said trumpeter Clark Terry, 81, who said he first played with Hampton, along with Dinah Washington, when Terry got out of the Navy in 1945.

"He never felt like he was doing enough," Terry said. "Some guys become complacent and they feel like they got it made, but he never did. He was always in there with a vision to win."

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