×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

John S. Wilson

Music critic

John S. Wilson, the first critic to write regularly about jazz and pop music in the New York Times, died Aug. 27 at a nursing home in Princeton, N.J. He was 89.

Although Wilson, a contributor to the Times for four decades and a widely heard radio host, wrote about a variety of music, he was best known for his authoritative coverage of jazz. Saxophonist Sonny Rollins named a tune, “John S.,” on his album “The Bridge” after Wilson.

Elizabeth, N.J., native attended Wesleyan and earned his master’s in journalism at Columbia. During WWII, he served in the Army and edited the base newspaper at Fort Dix, N.J., and later a military women’s journal in Paris. After the war, he returned to New York, where he was an entertainment editor, sports editor and columnist for the landmark newspaper PM and the New York editor of Down Beat.

He started with the Times in 1952 and continued in the paper until 1994.

His books include “The Collector’s Jazz: Traditional and Swing,” “The Collector’s Jazz: Modern” and “Jazz: The Transition Years, 1940-1960.” He also wrote regularly for High Fidelity magazine and Video Review.

He was a commentator on “The World of Jazz” radio series on WQXR 1954-1970, his program “Jazz Today” was broadcast on the Voice of America 1971-89, and he was the host of “The Manhattan Jazz Hour” on American Public Radio in 1985-86. “John Wilson’s Classic Jazz” was broadcast weekly on WQXR from 1986-93.

He is survived by wife Mary Moris Schmidt, two sons and two grandchildren.

Popular on Variety

More Scene

  • Laverne Cox Charlie's Angels

    How Laverne Cox Landed a Cameo in Elizabeth Banks' 'Charlie’s Angels'

    Laverne Cox officially earned her wings, scoring a role in Sony’s “Charlie’s Angels.” But she revealed her cameo almost didn’t happen. When the Emmy-nominee heard that Elizabeth Banks was directing the film, the longtime fan of the franchise (and of Banks herself) reached out about being part of the project. Cox had previously worked with [...]

  • Lena Waithe'The Inheritance' Broadway play opening,

    Lena Waithe, Anderson Cooper Attend Broadway Opening of 'The Inheritance'

    “The Inheritance” pulls viewers in many directions — toward pain and hope, trauma and healing. It’s what brought stars like Andy Cohen, Anderson Cooper, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick and Lena Waithe to Broadway on Sunday — a chance to heal, to remember and grieve. Also in attendance for the premiere at the Barrymore Theater [...]

  • Cybill ShepherdTrevorLIVE, Show, The Beverly Hilton,

    'The L Word' Co-Stars Cybill Shepherd and Jane Lynch Reunite at TrevorLive

    Fans of Showtime’s “The L Word” will be happy to hear that Cybill Shepherd eagerly reprised her on-screen romance with former co-star Jane Lynch on Sunday night at the TrevorLive Gala at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles. While accepting the champion Award, Shepherd kissed Lynch not one, but twice. The “Moonlighting” star was recognized [...]

  • Rami Malek, Robert Pattinson and John

    Robert Pattinson Praises Fans for Raising Funds for Go Campaign: ‘It’s So Sweet’

    Robert Pattinson is giving back, but he’s even more impressed that his friends and fans are joining him in the fight. “It’s amazing,” Pattinson told Variety on the black carpet outside Neuehouse in Hollywood at the Go Campaign’s annual gala. “And they’ve done it every year. It’s kind of — it’s so sweet and I [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content