Jazz Legend Graeme Bell Dies, Aged 97

15 June 2012 | 10:04 am | Scott Fitzsimons

He was considered the father of Australian jazz.

Australia jazz legend Graeme Bell has died at the age of 97 this week after suffering a stroke. The composer, pianist and bandleader died Wednesday at the Prince Of Wales hospital.

Considered the 'father' of Australian jazz, he was inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame in 1997, the same year as the Bee Gees and Paul Kelly, and was made a Member Of The British Empire in 1978 and an Officer Of The Order Of Australia in 1990.

Born in 1914 in Richmond, Melbourne, he started playing the piano at age 12 having been born into a musical family. His career really took off in the late '40s when he toured Europe with his Australian Jazz Band. From there he enjoyed a stunningly extensive career, producing over 1,500 recordings and performing well into his 90s.

He is credited with not only developing the Australian jazz scene locally and around the world, but also attracting international musicians to Australia and putting us on the map.

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Australia's national jazz awards The Bells, are named after him.

You can listen to two of his pivotal early recordings Swanston St Shamble and Two Day Jag at the Australian Screen website here.

Or listen to Old Man's Beard here: