Tributes Paid to Famous Jazz Guitarist Skip to content

Tributes Paid to Famous Jazz Guitarist

Guitarist Jón Páll Bjarnason passed away at his home on Sunday, at the age of 77. Jón Páll was among Iceland’s best guitarists and was one of the pioneers of jazz music in the country.

Jón Páll was born in Seyðisfjörður on February 6, 1938; the son of Anna G. Jónsdóttir, a nurse, and Gunnar Bjarnason, an engineer and head of the national engineering school.

A statement from loved-ones states that Jón Páll had started by learning cello and later piano, but that he gravitated towards the guitar at an early age—a love which lasted through his entire life.

Jón Páll played live with many of the country’s best bands, first in Iceland and then also in Denmark and Sweden. He also took a tour playing with international musicians on cruise ships in the Caribbean. Later on in life he took a university degree in his chosen art form in the USA, playing with world famous names whilst there.

He taught guitar privately and taught both for the FÍH music school and the Akranes elementary school, Vísir reports.

Jón Páll was married three times. His first wife was the famous singer Ellý Vilhálms. The couple had one daughter, Hólmfríður Ásta, before splitting. His second wife was air hostess Erna Haraldsdóttir, who died in the major airplane crash in Sri Lanka in 1978. His third wife was the American author Roberta Ostroff, who died in 2004.

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