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Top electric bass player toured with Joni Mitchell Print-ready version

Associated Press
September 23, 1987
Original article: PDF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.

Electric bassist John Francis (Jaco) Pastorius, whose brief career influenced jazz musicians worldwide, has died in poverty. He was 35.

Mr. Pastorius died Monday night at Broward General Medical Centre, where he had been comatose since he was beaten earlier this month, said Gary Cuccia, a nursing co-ordinator.

His rapid-fire fingering techniques and composing talent earned him a reputation in the late 1970s and early 1980s as one of the jazz world's top electric bass players.

At the peak of his career, he toured with Weather Report, Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock, and Blood, Sweat and Tears.

Mr. Pastorius entered the music world by playing Fort Lauderdale clubs, but his last destitute years were spent on the city's streets.

The beating may have been triggered by his trying to kick in the door of an after-hours club, police said.

The club manager, Luc Havan, was arrested Friday on a charge of aggravated battery and released on $5,000 bond, police said.

Early in his career, Mr. Pastorius had disdained drugs and alcohol, saying they impaired his playing. But colleagues said he began to drink shortly after joining Weath-er Report, and the drinking became a habit.

Critics noted in the early 1980s that Mr. Pastorius had become prone to wild mood swings and bizarre behavior.

In 1982, he pleaded guilty to resisting a police officer with violence. He was sen-tenced to probation, which he violated by riding drunk and naked on the hood of a pickup truck.

About 1984, he began spending most of his time in New York. Family and friends began hearing stories that he was always drunk, often slept in parks and smashed his guitars.

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