George Wein

Last updated

George Wein
George Wein (14841153083) (cropped).jpg
Wein at the Newport Jazz Festival in 2014
Background information
Born(1925-10-03)October 3, 1925
Lynn, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedSeptember 13, 2021(2021-09-13) (aged 95)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s)Festival producer, concert promoter, musician
InstrumentsPiano, vocals
Labels Arbors
Associated acts Ruby Braff, Howard Alden, Warren Vache

George Wein (October 3, 1925 – September 13, 2021) was an American jazz promoter, pianist, and producer. [1] He was the founder of the Newport Jazz Festival, which is held every summer in Newport, Rhode Island. He also co-founded the Newport Folk Festival with Pete Seeger and Theodore Bikel and was instrumental in the founding of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.


Early life

Wein was born in Lynn, Massachusetts, on October 3, 1925. [2] [3] His father, Barnet, worked as a ear, nose, and throat doctor; his mother, Ruth, was an amateur piano player. [2] [4] Both of his parents were Jewish. [5] Wein was raised in Newton and began learning the piano when he was eight. [2] He developed a passion for jazz while attending Newton High School, [2] where he formed his first jazz band. [4] He studied at Boston University, where he led a small group which played professionally around Boston. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, he graduated from Boston University's College of Liberal Arts in 1950. [6] [7]


After graduation, Wein opened the Storyville jazz club and established the Storyville record label. [4] He also taught a course at Boston University on the history of jazz. [8] [9]

In 1954, Louis and Elaine Lorillard invited Wein to organize a festival in their hometown of Newport, Rhode Island, with funding to be provided by them; the festival was the first outdoor jazz festival in the United States [1] and became an annual tradition in Newport. Wein was subsequently instrumental in the founding of a number of festivals in other cities, including the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival [10] , and the Playboy Jazz Festival in Los Angeles, and established the Newport Folk Festival. [4] [8] In the 1960s he set up Festival Productions, a company dedicated to promoting large-scale jazz events. [2]

Wein pioneered the idea of corporate sponsorship for his events. His Schlitz Salute to Jazz and Kool Jazz Festival were the first jazz events to put sponsors in the title: Schlitz beer and Kool cigarettes. Festival Productions organizes the JVC Jazz Festival at Newport and JVC Jazz Festivals in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Paris, Warsaw, and Tokyo. [2] Other title sponsors of Festival Productions events include Mellon Bank, [11] Essence magazine, [12] Verizon, [13] Ben & Jerry's, and Dunkin' Donuts. [2]

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed George Wein among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire. [14]


Wein received a wide array of honors for his work with jazz concerts. He received the Patron of the Arts Award from the Studio Museum of Harlem in 1995, [15] and was recognized with an Impact Award from the AARP in 2004. [16] He was decorated with France's Légion d'honneur and appointed a Commandeur de L'Ordre des Arts et Lettres (Commander of the Order of Arts and Literature) by the French government. He has been honored at the White House by two American presidents, Jimmy Carter in 1978 and Bill Clinton in 1993. In 2005, he was named a "Jazz Master" by the National Endowment for the Arts. His autobiography, Myself Among Others: A Life in Music was singled out as 2004's best book about jazz by the Jazz Journalists Association. Wein received honorary degrees from the Berklee College of Music and Rhode Island College of Music, and was a lifetime Honorary Trustee of Carnegie Hall. [17]

Wein was a distinguished member of the Board of Directors Advisory committee of the Jazz Foundation of America. He has also performed and presented at the Jazz Foundation's benefit concert "A Great Night in Harlem". He presented the Saint of Jazz award to Harry Elias of JVC America in 2002. [18]

Personal life

In 1959, Wein married Joyce Alexander (1928–2005), a gentile of African American descent. [19] The couple established The George and Joyce Wein Collection of African-American Art. [19]

Wein died at his home in Manhattan on September 13, 2021, at age 95. [2] [20]


Related Research Articles

Newport, Rhode Island City in Rhode Island, United States

Newport is a seaside city on Aquidneck Island in Newport County, Rhode Island. It is located in Narragansett Bay, approximately 33 miles (53 km) southeast of Providence, 20 miles (32 km) south of Fall River, Massachusetts, 74 miles (119 km) south of Boston, and 180 miles (290 km) northeast of New York City. It is known as a New England summer resort and is famous for its historic mansions and its rich sailing history. It was the location of the first U.S. Open tournaments in both tennis and golf, as well as every challenge to the America's Cup between 1930 and 1983. It is also the home of Salve Regina University and Naval Station Newport, which houses the United States Naval War College, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, and an important Navy training center. It was a major 18th-century port city and boasts many buildings from the Colonial era.

Pee Wee Russell Musical artist

Charles Ellsworth "Pee Wee" Russell, was a jazz musician. Early in his career he played clarinet and saxophones, but he eventually focused solely on clarinet.

Newport Folk Festival Annual American music festival in Rhode Island

Newport Folk Festival is an annual American folk-oriented music festival in Newport, Rhode Island, which began in 1959 as a counterpart to the Newport Jazz Festival. It was one of the first modern music festivals in America, and remains a focal point in the expanding genre of folk music. The festival was held annually from 1959 to 1969, except in 1961 and 1962, returned to Newport in 1985, and has been held at Fort Adams State Park since then.

Newport Jazz Festival

Newport Jazz Festival is held every summer in Newport, Rhode Island. Elaine Lorillard established the festival in 1954, and she and husband Louis Lorillard financed it for many years. They hired George Wein to organize the first festival.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Annual music festival

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is an annual celebration of local music and culture held at the Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans, Louisiana. Jazz Fest attracts thousands of visitors to New Orleans each year. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation Inc., as it is officially named, was established in 1970 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization (NPO). The Foundation is the original organizer of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell Oil Company, a corporate financial sponsor. The Foundation was established primarily to redistribute the funds generated by Jazz Fest into the local community. As an NPO, their mission further states that the Foundation "promotes, preserves, perpetuates and encourages the music, culture and heritage of communities in Louisiana through festivals, programs and other cultural, educational, civic and economic activities". The founders of the organization included pianist and promoter George Wein, producer Quint Davis and the late Allison Miner.

Rhode Island is a state of the United States, located in the New England region. The first organ said to be designed for church use was installed at Trinity Church in Newport in 1733.

Reuben "Ruby" Braff was an American jazz trumpeter and cornetist. Jack Teagarden was once asked about him on the Garry Moore television show and described Ruby as "the Ivy League Louis Armstrong".

Benjamin "Buzzy" Drootin was an American jazz drummer.

Bud Freeman Musical artist

Lawrence "Bud" Freeman was an American jazz musician, bandleader, and composer, known mainly for playing tenor saxophone but also able at the clarinet.

Newport Music Festival American music festival in Rhode Island

The Newport Music Festival is an annual chamber music-oriented music festival in Newport, Rhode Island, which began in July 1969. The festival consists of dozens of concerts each year, held in a variety of historic sites around town. The festival has hosted over 2,500 concerts featuring nearly 150 artists making their American debuts.

Victor Dickenson was an American jazz trombonist. His career began in the 1920s and continued through musical partnerships with Count Basie (1940–41), Sidney Bechet (1941), and Earl Hines.

Max Kaminsky (musician) Musical artist

Max Kaminsky was an American jazz trumpeter and bandleader.

Elaine Lorillard American socialite

Elaine Guthrie Lorillard was an American socialite who founded the Newport Jazz Festival with her husband, Louis Lorillard.

This is the discography of Duke Ellington. Most of these recordings are listed by the year they were recorded rather than year released. Reissues are listed for most of the recordings released before the 1950s, as the original 78s are rare. The US chart listing information should be considered tentative because sources like the Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories does not take the cheaper dime-store records into account. During this period, records sold by song title, not by artist, although there are exceptions.

Storyville (nightclub)

Storyville was a Boston jazz nightclub organized by Boston-native, jazz promoter and producer George Wein during the 1940s.

Elizabeth Allison Miner was a music promoter and manager who was instrumental in the early production of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the later career of pianist Professor Longhair.

What Cheer? Brigade is a brass band with approximately 18 active members from Providence, Rhode Island, United States. They perform using exclusively brass instruments, saxophones, and drums in a variety of world styles, such as Indian Bollywood music, Balkan brass, klezmer, as well as American styles such as hip hop, rock, and New Orleans second line music.

Josiah Alexander Sila, known professionally as Joey Alexander, is an Indonesian jazz pianist. He became the first Indonesian musician to chart on Billboard 200 when his album My Favorite Things debuted at number 174 and then peaked at 59.

Albert M. "Al" Drootin was an American jazz clarinetist and saxophone player. He was the brother of drummer Buzzy Drootin and father of pianist Sonny Drootin.

<i>Newport Jazz Festival All Stars</i> 1960 live album by Buck Clayton, Bud Freeman, Vic Dickenson, Champ Jones, George Wein, Jake Hanna, Pee Wee Russell

Newport Jazz Festival All Stars is a live album by an all star group assembled by pianist/promoter George Wein that featured trumpeter Buck Clayton, saxophonist Bud Freeman, trombonist Vic Dickenson and clarinetist Pee Wee Russell which was recorded in Boston in 1959 in preparation for the Newport Jazz Festival and released on the Atlantic label in 1960.


  1. 1 2 "George Wein: Dinosaur Walks the Earth" Archived February 15, 2006, at the Wayback Machine interview, June 2000, Retrieved on April 1, 2007.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Keepnews, Peter (September 13, 2021). "George Wein, Jazz Festival Trailblazer, Is Dead at 95". The New York Times . Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  3. Souther, Jonathan Mark New Orleans on Parade: Tourism and the Transformation of the Crescent City. p. 119.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Smith, Harrison (August 12, 2021). "George Wein, Newport music festival founder and innovative promoter, dies at 95". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 13, 2021.
  5. Cherry, Robert; Griffith, Jennifer (Summer 2014). "Down to Business: Herman Lubinsky and the Postwar Music Industry". Journal of Jazz Studies vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 1-24.
  6. Josephs, Larry (September 9, 1954) "Boston Beat". Jewish Advocate. p. 2.
  7. "George Wein Named Honorary Newport Citizen". (August 4, 1966) Jewish Advocate. p. 4.
  8. 1 2 Feeney, Mark (September 13, 2021). "David Roberts, mountaineer and dean of adventure writing, dies at 78". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on September 14, 2021. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  9. Brown, Joel (May 13, 2015). "Doctor of Humane Letters to Be Awarded to George Wein (CAS'50)". Boston University. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  10. "Latest news, updates, photos and videos from the New Orleans Jazz Fest." New Orleans Net LLC. Web. March 23, 2012.
  11. Persaud, Babita (September 9, 2005). "Verizon's music deal". Tampa Bay Times. Archived from the original on September 14, 2021. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  12. "Essence In New Orleans: A Festival That Knows Its Audience". NPR. July 9, 2012. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  13. Magubane, Vukani (March 16, 1986). "Giving Clients a Run for Their Money". The New York Times. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  14. Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times . Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  15. "George Wein, Jazz Impresario: Pianist – Eyes of the Entrepreneurs". New York City: The New School. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  16. Harris, Craig (July 16, 2008). "New Frontiers in Newport by Craig Harris". The Republican. Springfield, Massachusetts. Archived from the original on September 14, 2021. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  17. "George Wein". National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  18. "A Great night in Harlem : Jazz CD Reviews- September 2002 MusicWeb(UK)". Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  19. 1 2 Levy, Devra Hall (August 16, 2015). "Joyce Alexander Wein: October 21, 1928 – August 15, 2005". Sue Auclair Promotions.
  20. "George Wein, longtime producer of Newport Folk and Jazz festivals, dies at 95". Newport Daily News. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  21. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "George Wein – Album Discography". AllMusic . Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  22. "George Wein – Credits". AllMusic . Retrieved September 13, 2021.

Further reading

  1. Wein, George; Chinen, Nate (February 18, 2009). "Myself Among Others: A Life In Music". Hachette Books via Google Books.