Pianist George Winston dies after a long battle with cancer

Credit: George Winston

Pianist George Winston has passed away after a long 10-year battle with cancer.

Pianist George Winston, a musician whose recordings made him one of the first stars of New Age music, has died after a ten-year battle with cancer. His family announced that he “quietly and painlessly left this world in his sleep” on Sunday, June 4, 2023. He was 73 years old.

“George bravely navigated major cancers, including a successful bone marrow transplant for myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) in 2013 at the City of Hope in Duarte, California, which gratefully extended his life by ten years,” his family writes on their blog website.

“Throughout his cancer treatments, George continued to write and record new music while staying true to his greatest passion: performing in front of live audiences while raising funds for Feeding America to help fight the national hunger crisis, and donated the proceeds from each of his.” Passions concerts at local tables.”

In the course of his more than 50-year career, George first became known for his two legendary albums: Autumn (1980) and December (1982). His distinctive, heavily imitated style of warm, pastoral solo piano largely established his reputation as a New Age artist, although Winston never used that term to describe his music.

“I’ve always called it ‘Folk Piano’ (or more specifically ‘Rural Folk Piano’),” wrote George on his website. “Because it’s melodic and not complicated in approach like folk guitar and folk songs and has a country sensibility.”

Still, Winston always claims His real passion was R&B, inspired by the piano sounds of New Orleans and the Stride tradition of Harlem. Despite the fundamentals of classical music evident in his playing, Winston had neither formal training nor interest in classical music.

Winston was drawn to the sounds of the organ after hearing The Doors in 1967, and his involvement with Doors organist Ray Manzarek led him to jazz musician Jimmy Smith, who inspired Winston to do so in 1971, modeled on Stride pianist Fats Waller to switch to the piano.

With 16 solo piano albums under his belt, George Winston has taken tributes for Vince Guaraldi, The Doors, a Hurricane Katrina relief effort, a charity event for the Gulf Coast and Louisiana Wetlands, a 9/11 charity event, a cancer research charity event for City of Hope and many others on .

George Winston’s legacy includes his popular catalog and archive of his acoustic guitar and harmonica recordings, as well as albums by a number of Hawaiian slack-key artists on his Dancing Cat Records label.