Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Remembering Ed Bradley June 22, 1941 - November 9, 2006

Most remember him as a journalist on 60 Minutes but Ed Bradley loved, lived, and died jazz.

Ed Bradley was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was primarily raised by his mother, Gladys.  His mom worked two jobs to support her family.  His dad was in the vending business in Detroit and Ed would visit him in the summers.  He attended school in an all black catholic boarding school.  He then attended the Mount Saint Charles Academy in Rhode Island and finally graduated from Cheyney State College in Pennsylvania with a degree in education.

Following college, Ed was an elementary schoolteacher and moonlighted at a radio station where he programmed music and read the news.  He also broadcasted local athletic events.  While at WDAS, he covered his first news reports during a riot in Philadelphia during the 60's.  Ed eventually took a job with CBS where he worked in Paris, France covering the Peace Talks.  He soon found himself in Saigon covering the Vietnam war as well as Cambodia.  While in Vietnam, Bradley was
wounded from a mortar round that hit is back and arms.  He returned to Washington D.C. and was given the task of covering the Jimmy Carter campaign.  Dan Rather replaced Walter Cronkite as anchor of the CBS News and Bradley took Rather's spot.

Ed Bradley was a regular on 60 Minutes for 26 years and during that time covered over 500 stories from war, poverty, politics and human interest stories.  He interviewed many heavyweights over his years with 60 Minutes that included George Burns, Michael Jordan, Timothy McVeigh and Bob Dylan.  He is remembered for wearing an earring on camera not seen before in television news journalism.

On Bradley's personal side, he was a lover of music, especially jazz and hosted "Jazz at the Lincoln Center" on NPR for over a decade.  He was considered the fifth Neville Brother and often performed with them on stage.  He was also a huge Jimmy Buffet fan and from time to time performed with his band.  He was also a professional sports fan and was often seen in the stands of the New York Knicks basketball games having been a longtime ticket holder.

Over the years, Bradley earned 19 Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award to name a few.  The National Association of Black Journalists considered Bradley a pioneer in African American broadcasting.

Ed Bradley's jazz funeral
Ed Bradley died on November 9, 2006 at the age of 65 from leukemia with his wife and longtime friend, Jimmy Buffet at his side.

Bradley's jazz handkerchief and program
A celebration of Ed Bradley's life (program pictured) took place on November 21, 2006 in the huge Riverside Church in New York City.  Many entertainers, journalists and musicians attended his service.  Among those who paid tribute to Bradley were former President Bill Clinton who called Bradley "a brilliant and insatiably curious traveler on a relentless lifetime quest to get to the bottom of things.  He was like the great jazz musicians he so admired.  He always played in the key of reason.  His songs were full of notes of facts but he knew to make the most of music you have to improvise."  Clinton said he knew he "had arrived in national politics when Ed Bradley wanted to interview me.  I always preferred watching him interview others."  Music for the service was performed by Aaron Neville, Jimmy Buffet who sang "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?"and Wynton Marsalis. The New Orleans funeral brass band was flown in to conclude the service New Orleans style when the audience waved their Ed Bradley handkerchiefs (shown) and marched to "When the Saints Go Marching In"

His resting place is unknown.

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