Preservation Hall Jazz Band's leader and senior member, the silver-haired trumpeter who excelled in his singing and playing, John Brunious, died Tuesday in Orlando, Florida, after suffering an apparent heart attack. He was 67.
When he was first hired at Preservation Hall around 1987, he replaced longtime trumpeter, Percy Humphrey. He became known as someone who could sing a spiritual like "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" that would bring tears to your eyes and then follow it with the slightly naughty "Shake That Thing" that made you laugh at his tale.
John Brunious's father, John Sr., also played trumpet, as does his son Wendell Brunious. Brunious made numerous recordings with the Preservation Hall Band and was ever-present on their tours around the world.
Brunious lost everything in the Federal Flood, including his six trumpets. In May 2006, the Tipitina's Foundation presented Mr. Brunious with a new silver-plated Conn trumpet. He has lived in Florida since the storm.
Update added February 20, 2008:
John Brunious (October 12, 1940 - February 12, 2008), leader of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, will be honored at a funeral service on Friday, February 22nd at the Charbonnet-Labat Funeral Home at 1615 St. Philip Street in the historic Treme section of New Orleans. Visitation is from 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. with the funeral service at 7 p.m.
Mr. Brunious will also be honored with a jazz funeral second line procession on Saturday, February 23rd at 1:00 pm.
The Second Line will begin at Preservation Hall at 726 St. Peter Street, go right on Bourbon Street, left on Ursuline Street, onto Rampart Street where it will pass the former site of Lu & Charlie's Nightclub. From there, it will proceed down Rampart Street and left onto St. Philip Street, right on Royal Street, right on St.Louis Street, right onto Bourbon Street, where it will also pass the Famous Door, and the procession will end back at Preservation Hall.