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Saxophonist Hank Crawford Dead at 74

Hank Crawford, whose alto saxophone graced many of Ray Charles’ classic recordings, and who went on to a prolific solo career, recording for Atlantic, Milestone and other labels, died Jan. 29 at his home in Memphis. The cause was complications from a stroke he suffered in 2000. Crawford was 74.

Known for his soul-jazz sound, Bennie Ross Crawford Jr. was born in Memphis on Dec. 21, 1934. He took piano lessons at age 9 and switched to the alto saxophone while in high school. After graduating, he began his professional career as a musician in the bands of local Memphis blues artists such as B.B. King, Ike Turner and Bobby “Blue” Bland. He formed his own band, Little Hank and the Rhythm Kings, in 1956. Crawford took on the name Hank during his teens when some local musicians told him that he sounded like another Memphis saxophonist named Hank.

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