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LONDON- Sir John Dankworth, the British jazz composer, saxophonist and band leader, has died. He was 82.
Jazz singer Dame Cleo Laine, who married Dankworth in 1958 after meeting during an audition for a spot with his band, announced her husband's death before the finale of an anniversary concert at The Stables, the theatre they founded together.
Monica Ferguson, the theatre's chief executive officer, said that Laine believed Dankworth would have wanted the evening to go ahead.
Dankworth died Saturday in a London hospital after being ill for several month.
Born in Woodford, Essex, in 1927, Dankworth began his musical career by playing a clarinet bought by his mother.
"I loved music, but I didn't want to be taught music, or learn anything, until my parents gave me up for lost, really, and that was when I was about 15," he told the BBC. "Then I eventually just heard some jazz."
After starting out as a fan of Benny Goodman, Dankworth switched to the saxophone after hearing Charlie Parker play.
In the early 1950s, Dankworth was auditioning singers to front his ensemble when he met Laine. They married and had a son, Alec, and daughter Jacqui - both jazz musicians. Both played at the anniversary concert on Saturday night.
Laine was made a dame in 1997, and Dankworth was knighted in 2006 by Queen Elizabeth II for services to music.
Along with performing and composing, his film score credits include Darling and Modesty Blaise.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been completed . - Sapa-AP