Charlie Biddle, 76, a leader of Montreal’s jazz scene in the 1950s and ‘60s who played bass with pianist Thelonious Monk and saxophonist Charlie Parker, died Tuesday in Montreal after a battle with cancer.
Biddle was a native of Philadelphia who moved to Canada in 1948. Over the next five decades, the World War II veteran and former car salesman became synonymous with jazz in Montreal.
Biddle opened his own club, Uncle Charlie’s Jazz Joint, in suburban Ste-Therese in 1958. He later performed in such legendary Montreal nightspots as the Black Bottom and the Penthouse, where he worked with musicians such as Parker, Monk, Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum and Lionel Hampton.
Until recently, Biddle played four nights a week at Biddle’s Jazz and Ribs, a Montreal landmark for nearly 25 years. Coincidentally, the club closed Tuesday for planned renovations, which included erecting a wall of fame to honor Biddle and others who have played at the club.
In 1979, he organized the three-day festival that some say paved the way for the renowned Montreal International Jazz Festival.
He became a Canadian citizen in 2000.