Whenever a VOA reporter interviewed a major jazz musician in past decades, the conversations inevitably turned to comments about VOA's Willis Conover.
From the 1950s to 1970s, the musicians' comments would likely be about the legendary broadcaster's hosting of jazz festivals from Newport to Moscow or just a simple, "Say hello to Willis."
But by the 1980s, many of the comments had changed to, "How's Willis doin'?" Word spread fast in the jazz community that Willis had contracted cancer.
Now, six years after his death at the age of 75, the name Willis Conover still brings back fond memories.
During a recent visit to Washington, legendary singer Tony Bennett remembered Willis this way. "I think he was the ultimate musicologist," Mr. Bennett said. "He knew so much about everything in music and he was so eloquent about describing his knowledge. And he was a wonderful person to me also."
Perhaps when Tony Bennett sings Willis Conover's theme song, "Take the 'A' Train," he's thinking about Mr. Conover.
Tony Bennett is one of the many jazz musicians who counted the late Willis Conover as their friend.
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