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Adolphus Riley Dies at 77

Adolphus “Snooks” Riley, a Washington D.C.-based trombonist, died at his home in Washington on May 3 of hypertension complications. He was 77.

Riley attended high school in Washington with Buck Hill, Charlie Rose, Bill Hughes and Jimmy Cobb, and started playing regularly in the D.C. area in the 1950s. He toured with Sonny Til and the Oreoles and spent almost a year on the road backing up blues singer Ruth Brown. In 2000 he performed with the Nap Turner Blues Band at the millennium celebration on the Capital Mall.

Sadly, Riley suffered from an addiction to heroin. He spent some time at the Lorton Reformatory as part of a work-release program that allowed him to play gigs at night. Fortunately he was eventually able to turn his troubles into something positive. He got a job working for the Narcotics Treatment Administration’s Youth Program, and from 1970-1976 was assigned to Fort Belvoir, Va. as a substance abuse counselor where he also got to sit-in with the military band.

Riley is survived by his son, Stringfellow Everett Riley and three grandchildren.