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Overdue Ovation: Eddie Henderson

Figure skater, psychiatrist, veteran trumpeter

The Cookers (Billy Harper, David Weiss, Eddie Henderson, Gary Bartz) at the 2013 Detroit Jazz Festival
Eddie Henderson

When he was a teenager, Eddie Henderson wanted nothing more than to become a professional figure skater. He hit the ice as soon as the rink opened and didn’t leave until closing time. Eventually the rigors of medical school caused him to retire that first dream, and it appeared he was headed for a lucrative career as a psychiatrist. But even after earning his medical degree Henderson was still not where he wanted to be in life. What he really wanted, he finally admitted to himself, was to play the trumpet.

“When Herbie hired me,” says Henderson, now 72 and still performing regularly, “I quit and the mental health staff said, ‘We can’t understand why you want to stop being a doctor and psychiatrist and play music.’ I said, ‘Wait a minute. You’re in the mental health field and you can’t understand why somebody would do something that makes them happy? I’m gonna put you on a 72-hour hold!'”

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