Obituary for John Coates Jr.
The legendary jazz pianist John Coates Jr. died peacefully on Wednesday, November 22, 2017, at The Jewish Home of Eastern PA.
For ten years John was living on the West Coast and before that on Coney Island. But the pull of his roots prevailed and he moved to Scranton, the scene of many of his gigs and concerts in 2015.
John, born in Trenton, NJ, on February 17, 1938, was the child prodigy of his dad, John Coates, a working musician, and his mom, a teacher. He started playing piano at a very early age, studied at Mannes College of Music and the Dalcroze School of Music, and thought seriously of becoming a concert pianist. His discovery of jazz changed his direction. After graduating from Rutgers in 1962, he worked for a music publisher in Delaware Water Gap as a composer/arranger and started performing regularly at the Deer Head Inn. Many famous artists were drawn to play with John including Al Cohn, Urbie Green, Bob Dorough of School House Rock fame, and Grammy-winning Phil Woods.
Stride-pianist Art Tatum was Johnny’s main influence and Johnny went on to influence Keith Jarrett who played with him when he was only a boy.
In NEPA, Johnny found a home playing festivals at Nay Aug Park, the Delaware Water Gap Jazz Festival, and many of the jazz clubs in the area.
His CDs are available on Amazon or at the Deerhead Inn in Delaware Water Gap.
Surviving are his many fans and friends, including former Scranton Mayor Jim Connors and Attorney Frank Bolock.
A memorial service is planned at a time and place to be announced.