Photo by Elsa Hahne.

Pete Fountain passes away at 86

New Orleans clarinetist Pete Fountain has passed away this morning at 5 a.m. August 6, 2016 he was 86.

Fountain who has had health problems, including heart surgery and a stroke retired from performing in April 2014.

His protege, clarinetist Tim Laughlin wrote an open letter to Pete Fountain that was published in OffBeat’s August 2014 issue.

Laughlin tells us: “Not many folks out there know that in 1952 Louis Armstrong wanted you to join his All-Stars to replace Barney Bigard. You said you couldn’t because you had just gotten married and were still in the National Guard. When I asked why that story was not in your book, you simply said you were asked to join a lot of bands.”

Fountain received OffBeat’s Best of the Beat Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001 which was celebrated in our Mardi Gras February 2002 issue. 

When asked by Bunny Matthews: “What’s the most beautiful sight you’ve ever seen?” Fountain said: “The first time I saw my wife, Beverly, at the El Morocco Club on Bourbon Street. Her mother and dad brought her in. They’d just come from a ball and she was in a white dress. It’s funny how things hit you. It hit me.”

Fountain is survived by his wife Beverly his three children, six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

More information will be posted as it comes in.

UPDATE: A funeral service and visitation for Pete Fountain will be held at St. Louis Cathedral on Wednesday, August 17.