Alvin Aqua Blanco

Legendary Jazz Musician Donald Byrd Dead At 80 Years Old


This is a sad day for Jazz music and Hip-Hop music. The legendary trumpeter Donald Byrd passed away on February 4, but his nephew confirmed his death today.

Amoeba reports that Byrd’s nephew, musician Alex Bugnon, took to Facebook to confirm the rumors of death, which had been circulating for several days. “I have no more patience for this unnecessary shroud of secrecy placed over his death by certain members of his immediate family,” read Bugnon’s post.

Byrd’s influence on Hip-Hop is indelible. Name a legendary Hip-Hop producer, and he more than likely sampled a Donald Byrd record or at least made sure to have several in their library. Large Professor flipped Byrd’s “Think Twice” for Main Source’s hit “Looking At The Front Door” and so did Q-Tip/A Tribe Called Quest for “Footprints.” Take a trip to and you’ll see heavy rap productions names like Evil Dee, Pete Rock and the late J. Dilla that liberally swiped Byrd grooves.

Most of Byrd’s greatest work was recorded for the legendary Blue Note Records. In the 70’s his collaborations with the Mizell Brothers resulted in jazz tinged R&B which made for some funky albums like 1975’s Places & Spaces. The aforementioned contains heavily sampled records like “Wind Parade” (Black Moon “Buck Em Down,” Organized Konfusion “Stray Bullet”) and “Dominoes” (DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince “Brand New Funk”).

Open to the talents of Hip-Hop acts that praised his work, it was Donald Byrd that collaborated with the late Keith “Guru” Elam on “Loungin'” from the Gang Starr rapper’s Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1 album.

There is no word on the exact cause of Byrd’s death at this time.

Listen to “Think Twice” (and some of the records that sampled it below (1:42, if you’re lazy) and the video for Guru’s “Loungin'” on the next page. Do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with the Jazz giant’s catalog sooner than later.

Rest In Power Donald Byrd.

ATCQ “Footprints”

Main Source “Looking At The Front Door”

Photo: Blue Note

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  • notsofast

    Cite a CREDIBLE source! He has been reported dead falsely in years past.

  • Music GIANT. RIP to a great jazz artist, whom I came to love for his contribution to the jazz-funk 70’s era of my youth. Sad indeed cause it serves as another reminder to me that my heroes are leaving the planet.

  • yazmin

    ummm you got it wrong he still alive !!!