Walter "Maynard" Ferguson, the Canadian jazz trumpeter and bandleader whose legendary career spanned six decades, has died of a brief illness in California, aged 78, his associates said Thursday.
Ferguson died Wednesday from kidney and liver failure caused by an abdominal infection at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, California, a statement on the musician's website said.
Ferguson's four daughters, Kim, Lisa, Corby, Wilder and other family members were at his side when he died after the brief illness.
Born May, 4, 1928, in Montreal, Ferguson began his career at age 13 when he performed as a featured soloist with the Canadian Broadcasting Company Orchestra.
During the 1940s big band era he played with some of the great bandleaders, including Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Barnett, Jimmy Dorsey and Stan Kenton.
In 1945, the 17-year-old virtuoso became the leader of his own big band.
He recorded more than 60 albums, receiving numerous honours and awards including a Grammy nomination for his hit Gonna Fly Now, featured in the boxing film Rocky starring Sylvester Stallone.
Ferguson, known as The Boss, was the recipient of DownBeat Magazine's prestigious "DownBeat" Award and in 2005 was awarded Canada's highest civilian honour, the "Order of Canada."
He had recently returned home to California from New York after several sold-out performances in July at the famed Blue Note Club. While on the East Coast, Ferguson and his Big Bop Nouveau Band also recorded a new album in New Jersey.
Ferguson and his Big Bop Nouveau Band had been touring the United States recently and he was preparing for a tour beginning mid-September in Tokyo.