Joey DeFrancesco & Earnie Shavers
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Joey DeFrancesco, a multi-instrumentalist known primarily as jazz’s leading organist for decades, died at his home in Phoenix on Aug. 25 at age 51. DeFrancesco began playing organ as a child under his musician father, and as a teenager he earned a break when he performed on the same billing as jazz legend Miles Davis. Impressed by an organ solo, Davis hired the 17-year-old to tour and record with him. Not long after, DeFrancesco became a fixture at jazz clubs everywhere, booking hundreds of dates a year while recording more than 30 albums. He became a renowned trumpeter and saxophonist, earned four Grammy nominations, and cut records with industry heavyweights like Van Morrison and Ray Charles.
Prize-fighting boxer Earnie Shavers, who many considered the sport’s hardest puncher during boxing’s golden age of heavyweights, died Sept. 1. He was 78. The Alabama-born Shavers began his professional boxing career in 1969, knocking out all but three of his first 47 opponents. By the mid-’70s, he was a heavyweight championship contender, though he fell short of a title win. In 1977, Shavers squared off against Muhammad Ali for a WBC championship in which Ali had to rally late to win a unanimous decision. In 1979, Shavers got another chance for a title belt against Larry Holmes, dropping his opponent in the 7th round with a short but powerful right. But Holmes rallied to defeat Shavers in the end.
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