While Corona, Queens, resident Louis Armstrong has had his home (rightly) made into a national shrine and public monies and private donors lavishly fund the Louis Armstrong House Museum, Dizzy Gillespie, whose impact on the history of jazz is equally profound, is not honored even with a simple marker for his grave.
Dizzy, born John Birks Gillespie on October 17, 1917, was a friend and close neighbor of Armstrong’s. TST columnist Scott Yanow said of Gillespie, “Dizzy Gillespie is one of the most advanced jazz musicians of all time. He had the ability to play a note that may be technically ‘wrong,’ hold onto it and make it fit, almost like fitting a square into a triangle (though nothing about Dizzy was ‘square’). He was able to play the most radical solos and make it all seem accessible due to his showmanship, inspired humor, and brilliant musicianship. He and Charlie Parker permanently changed jazz in the mid-1940s and Gillespie, by writing everything down and teaching the next generation, made bebop the foundation for modern jazz.”
Dizzy Gillespie’s career spanned the mid-1930s until shortly before his death on January 6, 1993. The Syncopated Times has learned that Gillespie’s grave at Flushing Cemetery is not marked with a memorial of any sort. To our knowledge, Dizzy never expressed the wish that his grave be left unadorned, so we feel that this omission is an injustice to his memory and to those who wish to pay homage to him.
Dizzy Gillespie is buried at Flushing Cemetery, 163-06 46th Ave, Flushing, NY 11358.