Jazz Great Mel Torme Dies

Mel Torme, the jazz and pop singer whose warm vocalizations earned him the unwanted title “the Velvet Fog,” died Saturday of complications from a 1996 stroke. He was 73. His wife and five children were at his side when he died at the UCLA Medical Center (where he had been rushed from his Beverly Hills home). Torme received a lifetime achievement award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences at February’s Grammy Awards. Besides his singing and prolific song-writing (his hits included the “Christmas Song,” about chestnuts roasting on an open fire), Torme’s career included acting in movies and on TV, where he drew fresh attention in the late 1980s as a result of his appearances on “Night Court.”

  • Torme began his musical career on radio at age four and preferred jazz singing to the crooning that brought him his nickname. “For a long period I was singing mushy, sentimental songs,” he said. “I began to be called the Velvet Fog. I never liked it.”
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