Two members of celebrated jazz musician Chuck Mangione’s band have been identified to be among the dead in Thursday night’s fatal plane crash near Buffalo, New York. Saxophonist Gerry Niewood and guitarist Coleman Mellett were identified as passengers late Friday morning. They were scheduled to perform with Mangione and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra at Kleiman’s Hall in Buffalo, New York on Friday night. The concert has been cancelled and no word has been released as to whether or not Mangione and the rest of his bandmates will reschedule with orchestra.
Gerry Niewood and Coleman Mellett boarded Continental Flight 3407 in Newark, New Jersey. The plane crashed into a home near Buffalo, New York at approximately 10:15pm Thursday night.
Gerry Niewood, 65, was a native of upstate New York. He was born and raised in Rochester, New York and graduated from the famed Eastman School of Music there. It was named the “Hottest School for Music” by Kaplan/Newsweek in 2008. Niewood had been playing with Mangione’s band since the 1970s.
Coleman Mellett, 61, lived in East Brunswick, New Jersey with his wife, jazz singer Jeanie Bryson. He had been a member of Mangione’s band since 1999.
The Chuck Mangione band members were not identified as victims of the crash until early Friday morning. Some of the major news outlets were not aware of the celebrity passengers until late Friday afternoon. Mangione, who was born and raised in Rochester, New York, spoke to TMZ this morning when news of his bandmates’ death was released. Mangione stated: “I’m in shock over the horrible, heartbreaking tragedy.”
Chuck Mangione is best known for his hit “Feels So Good”. He is arguably the most famous flugelhorn player in the world, and certainly one of the most successful. He has released more than 30 albums, and won a Grammy for “Best Instrumental Composition” in 1977. He has also become a recurring character on Fox’s popular animated series “King of the Hill” where he plays himself.
Americans have experienced a long history with losing celebrity musicians to plane crashes. Some of the most well-known are Aaliyah (2001), Stevie Ray Vaughn (1990), Jim Croce (1973), Otis Redding (1967) and Buddy Holly (1959). Three members of the band Lynyrd Skynyrd were killed in a plane crash in 1977. Two members of the band Blink 182, Adam Goldstein and Travis Barker, recently survived a plane crash in South Carolina in September 2008.