Jon Hendricks, the legendary jazz singer, has died at the age of 96.
Once called the “James Joyce of jive” by Time magazine, Hendricks was best known for a vocal technique known as vocalese (an invention credited to Eddie Jefferson), where singers take well-known jazz instrumental pieces and riff off of their titles to create stories that match the musical melodies.
Hendricks was born in 1921 in Newark, Ohio, Jon Carl Hendricks was one of 14 children. He studied law on the G.I. Bill following World War II, but he quickly moved to New York City and turned to ghostwriting lyrics for Tin Pan Alley to stay afloat.
In addition to his singing career, Hendricks taught jazz at the University of Toledo and worked as a music critic.
He is survived by daughter Aria Hendricks.