Clarinetist Pete Fountain, whose Dixieland jazz virtuosity and irrepressible wit endeared him to his native New Orleans and earned him decades of national television fame, died Saturday of heart failure. He was 86.
Benny Harrell, Fountain's son-in-law and manager, said Fountain was in hospice care in New Orleans when he died early Saturday.
With his ready wit and infectious laugh, Fountain was the epitome of the New Orleanian who knew how to "let the good times roll." He was well known to television fans through his appearances on the Lawrence Welk and Johnny Carson shows. Even his blues had a happy note.