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Jazz Legend Joe McQueen Dies at 100 Years Old

Joe McQueen performing at the Gallivan Center on May 31, 2018. McQueen died on Saturday, Dec. 7, according to family members. (Photo: Scott Jones)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Ogden jazz legend Joe McQueen has died at the age of 100 years old, according to family members.

“Going to miss you cousin Joe McQueen,” said Lucretia McQueen in a Facebook post. “You made your mark on earth and I know you will be playing that saxophone loud in Heaven. See ya when I get there.”

McQueen came to the Beehive State in 1945 — exactly 74 years ago Saturday, according to McQueen’s close friend Brad Wheeler.

Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me. I’ve been trying to find the words to talk about what Joe means to me…

Posted by Brad Wheeler on Saturday, December 7, 2019

McQueen was the first African American musician to play in Ogden and Salt Lake’s all-white clubs.

“We wound up staying here and I’m glad I did,” McQueen told the Deseret News in 2018. “I doubt I would’ve still been alive if I’d have left and gone someplace else.”

McQueen’s resume included stints with Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ray Charles and countless other musical legends. He entertained Utah crowds for over seven decades.

“I never have seen any of those guys that I just idolized and figured they were so much greater than I was,” McQueen told KSL’s Andrew Adams ahead of his 100th birthday. “They put their pants on one leg at a time just like me.”

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