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Former Berklee Faculty Member McGhee Passes Away

Jazzed Magazine • News • November 1, 2017

Andy McGhee, former longtime Berklee College of Music faculty member, passed away on October 12 in Atlanta. He would have been 90 years old on November 3. Berklee shared the news of his passing on Tuesday, October 24.

Born in 1927, McGhee moved to Boston from North Carolina in 1945 to study at New England Conservatory of Music. After graduating, he served in the Armed Forces, serving in the Army in Korea and at Fort Dix, New Jersey, where he played in an Army band and gave lessons to other musicians.

Afterwards, he worked in Lionel Hampton’s band and toured the United States, Europe, and Asia from 1957 to 1963, and went on to work with Woody Herman from 1963 to 1966.

McGhee’s time at Berklee started in 1966, the beginning of his 47 years teaching at the school. Following 31 years as a full-time faculty member, he “retired” in 1997, but continued to teach as a professor emeritus and part-time faculty member for 16 additional years, his actual year of retirement being 2013.

During his tenure at Berklee, McGhee taught private lessons and ensembles, and his many students included established saxophonists like Woodwind Department Chair Bill Pierce, and Javon Jackson, Donald Harrison, Walter Beasley, Antonio Hart, Richie Cole, Greg Osby, Jaleel Shaw, and Ralph Moore.

Outside of his teaching career, McGhee participated in the Golden Men of Jazz tour with Hampton, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Clark Terry, Benny Bailey, Al Grey, and Benny Golson in the early 1990s. The tour included concerts in Europe and the Unites States, featuring a show for President George H. W. Bush in Washington, D.C.

In May 2006, Andy was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee, and in commemoration of service to the college and the impact he has had on his students through the years, the school has also established the Andy McGhee Endowed Scholarship in his honor.

“With Andy’s passing, Berklee lost one of the seminal figures in its development,” a statement from Berklee School of Music and Vice President for Academic Affairs / Vice Provost Jay Kennedy reads.

Kennedy has invited Berklee community members and members of the jazz community to share their stores and memories of McGhee on a special In Memoriam blog.

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