Bill Napier, clarinetist who rose to renown with top San Francisco jazz bands of the 1940s and ’50s, died April 30 at his Hayward, Calif., home after a battle with cancer. He was 76.
Asheville, N.C., native’s mom was an actress, his dad a singer in a quartet and straight man in a comedy act. The family moved to San Francisco while Napier was in grade school. After World War II, he helped create a catchy West Coast style with a Dixieland sound and a San Francisco vibe. He played with jazz stars including trombonist Turk Murphy, Lu Watters and Bob Scobey’s Frisco Jazz Band.
His wife of 29 years, Kathleen, died in January. He’s survived by two stepdaughters and a sister.