My husband and I reconnected with Walter in 2007 when my daughter played at the Alice Coltrane Memorial. He was sitting outside waiting to go in when we approached him because he looked so familiar. After some back and forth, we realized we knew each other from Howard University ❤️️. From that day on, we stayed in touch and he became a faithful fan of my daughter, Brandee, showing up at her shows (even a midnight show on the Lower East Side), the Kennedy Center, among many others, and buying her albums. We talked regularly every 2-3 months once he moved to Maryland. We just spoke about 3 weeks ago! At that time, he told me he had just received Brandee’s latest album, saying that he bought the vinyl because he was “old school 😊”. He was certainly a lover of music and DEFINITELY knew and loved his jazz. I know he loved his family and was especially proud of his children and grandchildren. My family will miss Walter tremendously. Our sincerest condolences and please know that we will continue to keep your family in prayer. Rest in God’s eternal peace, Walter. The following photos were taken at a concert at the Apollo Cafe.
My deepest condolences to the Blount family on the passing of my dear Howard buddy, Walter. We entered Howard together as freshmen, became close friends and even though later separated geographically, stayed in touch through email, constant messaging and phone conversation. I am sure it was the mutual love of Jazz that connected us. I will truly miss him.
In the age of selfies, I can’t believe that never took a picture with my friend Walter Blount, who passed away suddenly on Friday. Though he and I had only been friends for a few years, we got close very fast, often going to our favorite Bolton Hill cafe for breakfast or lunch. Sitting in there snacking and drinking coffee, we were two Black bohemians talking about everything from Sun Ra to Sly Stone to the massive novel The Man Who Cried I Am by John A. Williams, which we discussed in detail last year.
Walter is the father of my homegirl Ericka Blount Danois, one of my favorite writers. She introduced to her amazing dad, a Howard University grad who was an aficionado in all thangs Black: people, music, art, books, films and more. The brother schooled me just by sharing his amazing stories. Though he was about two decades older than me, he was the epitome of “young at heart,” and turned me on to new stuff (40 Year Old Version, the latest Miles Davis doc) often.
A year ago he’d finally gotten his massive record collection out of storage, and had recently bought a new turntable to play them on.
The last time I saw Walter was the first week in January. To my untrained eye, he looked fine, but two weeks later, he suddenly slipped into the light of another plane. God…he’ll truly be missed. Over the years I’ve met so many people who, when they discovered I was a writer, said, “You should write a book about my life.” Mr. Walter never said anything so silly, but, if he had, I would’ve agreed with him.
Mr. Walter Blount became an ancestor on Friday. He intersected in myriad points of my travels: He – like me – was a proud Howard University Bison, with my friend, Tom Terrell. He was also friends with several other friends of mine including, Michael Gonzales, Greg Tate, Yusef Jones, and Don Palmer. He was also the proud father of the uber-talented journalist/author/ educator Ericka Blount Danois, and her equally fabulous sister, artist, Elissa Blount Moorhead.
I remember him as a very knowledgeable customer who knew his jazz and blues, when I worked at Olson’s Record Store at 19th & L in D.C. in the 80’s. My memory of him is further augmented by the fact that he bore a passing resemblance to the record store’s jazz buyer, Bill Brower, one of my most significant mentors. I saw Mr. Blount many decades later at Don Palmer’s BBQ in Baltimore. He still had that laid-back layer of cool that contained a deep reservoir of knowledge, intelligence and humanity that he passed on to his daughters.
I dedicate Miles Davis’ “Star People,” to him. Rest in Peace, Sir!
A Father figure to so many. a beloved Father to his own blood children. a mentor, teacher, historian, comedian, confidante, friend to many. all that is passed will never fully be known except in the hearts and minds of those who knew and loved Walter “Rocco” Blount. my deepest condolences to his best friend-former wife, children/ Elisa Blount Morehead & Ericka Blount Danois/ and grandchildren. I have been honored to have shared time and space w/ such a GREAT SOUL & his family. my heart speaks the words my mind can’t express thru the haze of this news. me & mine are feeling it. but, then, here comes Mr. Rocco’s voice in my ear. Respect. ️🏽🏾 rest in power. i will listen for ur light. (and this really sucks, too.)
Please accept my deepest condolences for your loss. My heart goes out to you and the family during this time of transition. I’m going to miss Walt’s wit, presence and vibrant spirit.
Peace and Blessings,
Rocco was one of the most gentle, loving, and hospitable people I’ve ever known. My daughters loved spending time with him in after school, and I treasured him as a colleague. May he rest in God’s peace, and may all those who love and miss him be comforted.
My close friend Walter Blount transitioned to the afterlife yesterday. He and I attended elementary school together in Nyack, NY, and reconnected at Howard U. where Walter was in his third year when I arrived in 1970.
Blount and I bonded around our love for music, especially jazz. In the 1970s and ‘80s, he hosted a jazz program on WPFW-FM—around the same time that I was hosting a similar program on WDCU-FM. (He and I agree that Joe Henderson is jazz’s most underrated saxophonist.)
We also shared a thirst for soaking in as much Black history and culture as possible. In the past year or so, Blount and I have attended a preview of the Miles Davis documentary at the Maryland Film Festival, participated in a discussion of the life of songwriter Billy Strayhorn at the Library of Congress, seen a documentary about the Apollo Theatre at the National Archives, and taken part in a workshop led by jazz drummer Joe Chambers at the University of the District of Columbia.
I last saw Blount in late October when I drove to Baltimore to have lunch with him. We ate at the Baltimore Museum of Art and then checked out an exhibit at the museum co-curated by Walter’s oldest daughter, Lisa. I have no doubt that Blount’s two talented daughters, Elissa Blount Moorhead and Ericka Blount Danois, will carry on his legacy, especially when it comes to promoting and advancing Black culture. Sleep easy my good friend/brother. I’ll miss your wisdom and companionship.
Jazz cats at rest…Going to miss you greatly Brother Rocco, you were one of the heaviest (knowledgeable) cats I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Safe travels to the next world. Inshallah
If you’ve ever pondered the question, “What do you want to be said about you when you’re gone?’, this obituary is exhibit A. Mr. Blount, left us so unexpectedly and much younger than we planned, but man, he packed a LOT into those quick 73 years.
For 46 of those years he was a part of the village that raised me, as the dad of my childhood best friend and her/our lil sis. Their home was often a weekend home for me. He was at times a curiosity to me, always affable around EVERYONE; never angry or scary like some dads (his wife Mama Linda did the parental yelling and it was warranted), never overly exhuberant either (he was cooler than a fan); unconditionally accepting, no matter how weird it got (and I had some 80’s moments), albeit with some sly sarcasm and/or dry humor. He was always in all the places where multiple generations of family and extended family gathered. Somehow, he was at my elementary, junior high, high school and college graduations, and I believe my wedding. He had time to be at all the graduations, recitals, performances of every kind of all the kids. He was low-key but his presence was always significant. He was a constant with an easy spirit. He will be missed, but somehow he will always be present, like an easy breeze or some Sunday morning Jazz. Rest easy, Mr. Blount. ❤️️ See you on the flip side.