Died May 24

Duke Ellington was one of the most influential personalities in jazz music. The composer and band leader led The Duke Ellington Orchestra for over 50 years. Ellington's band first gained fame playing at Harlem's Cotton Club in the 1920s. He composed over 1,000 pieces of music including the classic jazz standard "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)." "Duke" is credited with elevating jazz to an art form on par with other music genres. We remember Ellington's life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.

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2013: Ed Shaughnessy, U.S. big band drummer who was a member of the Tonight Show band, dies at 84.

Ed Shaughnessy (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)The New Jersey native began his jazz career as a teenager, playing with Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, and Count Basie. He replaced Buddy Rich in Tommy Dorsey's band. In the mid-1950s, Shaughnessy became a staff musician at CBS. From 1963 to 1992, Shaughnessy was a late-night television fixture as part of the house band on NBC's "Tonight Show With Johnny Carson." Read more




2012: Lee Rich, U.S. television producer who co-founded Lorimar Television and produced "The Waltons" and "Dallas," dies at 93.

2012: Mark McConnell, U.S. drummer known best for being the drummer for Sebastian Bach, dies at 50.

2010: Paul Gray, U.S. bassist who was one of the founding members of the metal band Slipknot, dies at 38.

Slipknot emerged in the mid-1990s as a band known for its grotesque masks, trashing sound, and aggressive, dark lyrics. Slipknot's 1999 debut album sold about 2 million copies, and the band won a Grammy in 2006 for best metal performance for the song "Before I Forget." Read more


2009: Jay Bennett, U.S. guitarist, producer, and singer-songwriter known best as a member of the Chicago-based band Wilco, dies at 45.

In May 2009, Bennett sued Wilco bandmate Jeff Tweedy, claiming he was owed royalties for songs during his seven years and five albums with the group. In the breach-of-contract lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court, Bennett also claimed that he deserved money from the band's 2002 documentary, "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart." The film documents the making of Wilco's album "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot." Read more


2008: Jimmy McGriff, U.S. jazz organist who played with jazz musicians such as Buddy Rich, dies at 72.

2008: Dick Martin, U.S. comedian and director known best as the co-host of the television comedy program "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In," dies at 86.

"Laugh-in," which debuted in January 1968, was unlike any comedy-variety show before it. Rather than relying on a series of tightly scripted song-and-dance segments, it offered up a steady, almost stream-of-consciousness run of nonsequitur jokes, political satire, and madhouse antics from a cast of talented young actors and comedians that also included Ruth Buzzi, Arte Johnson, Henry Gibson, Jo Anne Worley, and announcer Gary Owens. Presiding over it all were Dan Rowan and Martin, veteran nightclub comics whose stand-up banter put their own distinctive spin on the show. Read more



2008: Rob Knox, English actor who played Marcus Belby in the movie "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," is killed protecting his brother in a fight outside a bar at 18.

2003: Rachel Kempson, English actress who was in the movie "Tom Jones" and was the mother of actresses Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave, dies at 92.

1997: Edward Mulhare, Irish actor who starred on two television series, "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" and "Knight Rider," dies at 74.

1991: Gene Clark, U.S. guitarist and singer-songwriter who was one of the founders of the band the Byrds and wrote many of their songs, including "Eight Miles High," dies at 46.

Gene Clark (Wikimedia CommonsThe Byrds created an entirely new musical genre. Folk rock, as it became known, combined the brainy poetic lyrics and vocal harmonies of the former with the clean electric guitars and driving beats of the latter in what was essentially America's musical response to the British Invasion. Read more




1987: Hermione Gingold, English actress who played characters in the movies "Gigi" and "The Music Man," dies at 89.

1974: Duke Ellington, U.S. composer, pianist, and bandleader who was the leader of the best-known jazz orchestra in the history of jazz, dies at 75.

Considered one of the greatest composers of the 20th century, the pianist and big band leader wrote more than 1,000 musical pieces. His songs became popular standards, he was a 12-time Grammy winner, and he's in just about every musical Hall of Fame that could possibly apply to his body of work. His name is one of the best-known in jazz history. Read more




1972: Asta Nielsen, Danish actress who was a popular leading lady in the 1910s and one of the first international film stars, dies at 90.

1969: Mitzi Green, U.S. child actress who starred in "Little Orphan Annie" and played Becky Thatcher in "Tom Sawyer," dies at 48.

1963: Elmore James, U.S. blues guitarist and singer-songwriter known as the King of the Slide Guitar, dies at 45.

Click to discover notable people who were born this day in history including rapper Heavy D.