Cultural
5:52 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

Pianist Boyd Lee Dunlop, a star late in life, dead at 87

Local jazz pianist Boyd Lee Dunlop has died at the age of 87. Dunlop earned national acclaim in 2011 when his debut album, Boyd's Blues, became a hit in the jazz world. 

Dunlop recorded the album at the age of 85 while living in a nursing home. For years, he played local music halls, including the Colored Musicians Club, while working Buffalo's steel mills and rail yards.

Credit boydleedunlop.com

Boyd's Blues made it onto both the Billboard and the iTunes jazz charts, where it reached #1.  Dunlop went on to make a second album, called The Lake Reflections, the following year.

The pianist was inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame in the fall of 2012. WBFO spoke with Dunlop just before he received that honor.

"I put my heart in what I do," Dunlop said. "It's exciting to me."

"That's my calling, music."

Dunlop was featured on NPR's Weekend Edition in December of 2011, as well as in the New York Times. His brother Frankie also has a distinguished musical career as a jazz drummer who played with greats like Thelonius Monk and Charles Mingus.

Dunlop died just after midnight Thursday at Delaware Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Buffalo. A memorial service is planned at his church, the Evangelistic Temple at 92 Hedley Place, on January 18 at 11 a.m.  A musicians tribute will be held at the Colored Musicians Club on January 19 at 8 p.m.