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Joe “Bebop” Lane Dies at 80

Australian jazz vocalist Joe “Bebop” Lane-widely credited with bringing bebop to his native country-died last Friday, April 13, in Sydney. He was 80.

Reaching cult status for his impassioned live performances, Lane received his introduction to bebop in 1947 at the radio 2KY auditorium in Sydney. Shortly thereafter, he left the army and rejoined a jazz group featuring Wally Ledwidge and Jack Craber. The two musicians introduced Lane to Roy Maling, famed conductor and teacher of advanced harmony.

After studying with Maling, Lane hit the Sydney night scene, bringing bebop to clubs such as El Rocco, the Arabian and the Mocambo. In 1949, he and Ian Gunter formed a vocal jazz group to perform at Sammy Lee’s Club 47.

Lane kept busy throughout the 1950s, fronting the Dee Jays until Johnny O’Keefe took over. He often jammed with traveling American artists, notably members of the Lionel Hampton and Stan Kenton bands. Around this period, Lane also worked on the Melbourne version of the U.K. television show Cool for Cats, a music program aimed at teens.

Before returning to Sydney in 1971, Lane ran a jazz club and workshop in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1968. He continued performing at various venues and festivals until his death.

Though he had been playing live music for nearly a half-century, Lane finally released his first album of recorded music, The Arrival, in the mid-’90s. At the start of the decade, he received a feature role in the acclaimed Kevin Lucas jazz documentary Beyond El Rocco.

Prior to his death, Lane had most recently played the Sydney Opera House in Testimony, a tribute to the life and music of Charlie Parker.

Originally Published