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RIP Leroy

At least he had chicken.

Leroy Jenkins is dead.

No, not Leeroy Jenkins with a double "ee," the World of Warcraft video game character who's achieved global celebrity as described in the story "The Legend of Leeroy Jenkins." This is the real, flesh-and-blood Leroy Jenkins, an individual famous in his own right — though these days probably not as famous as the bunch of computer pixels that almost shares his name.

Leroy Jenkins, who died of lung cancer on February 24 at age 74, was, according to JazzTimes magazine, "arguably the most pivotal free-jazz violinist of the '60s." The Chicago native helped found the short-lived yet highly influential 1970s improvisational group Creative Construction Company and then led the celebrated free jazz trio Revolutionary Ensemble. More recently, Jenkins helped composed well-regarded music-theater works including The Mother of Three Sons, Fresh Faust and The Negros Burial Ground.

As JazzTimes puts it,

Stuff Smith, Eddie South and Joe Venuti may have pioneered jazz violin, but Jenkins was responsible for injecting avant-garde ideas (such as sawing, use of distortion, atonality, string bending and plucking) into the instrument and expanding its vocabulary.

It sounds like Leroy Jenkins was known for charging headfirst and alone into unnamed musical territory. Dare we say it? Leroy Jenkins, may he rest in peace, wasn't afraid to pull a Leeroy Jenkins. — Joel Warner

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner