Photo (c) Eric Holroyd

In Memoriam: Pete Clute (1933-2001)

By Bill Mitchell

The ragtime and trad jazz communities lost one of their veteran performers with the sudden death from a heart attack of Pete Clute on May 26 in San Jose. Pete was a student of the great Wally Rose, and replaced Rose permanently in the Turk Murphy band in 1957. He remained with Murphy as pianist and business partner in their San Francisco club, Earthquake McGoons, until 1983. He had been active since then in the Natural Gas Jazz Band and later formed a duo with banjoist Carl Lunsford. Clute and Lunsford were scheduled to appear at the Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival in August.

I met Pete in 1954, and he was generous in lending me some of his rare ragtime sheet music (almost no classic ragtime remained in print at that time) so that I could make copies and learn some great rags. Over the years I heard him several times with Murphy's band in San Francisco, and occasionally we had a chance to chat. He was on more than 20 LPs. In later years he began composing some stride pieces and band scores. The third annual Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival (Aug. 10-12) will be dedicated to him. He will be missed.

John T. Carney's Original Rags for Download

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