NEW YORK CITY, NY (CelebrityAccess) – Lorraine Gordon, longtime owner of the historic Village Vanguard jazz club in New York City and widow of its founder Max Gordon, passed away over the weekend (Saturday, June 9) from complications following a stroke she suffered on Memorial Day. She was 95.
Known as a shrewd yet charming businesswoman and prominent personality in the jazz scene, Gordon was a lifelong lover of the genre she so fiercely advocated for.
Having gotten her start in the business during the 1940s working alongside her first husband—Blue Note Records co-founder Alfred Lion—she helped to A&R a number of the label’s most prominent releases and is credited with discovering legendary pianist and composer Thelonious Monk.
After divorcing Lion and marrying Max Gordon, she became an outspoken political activist and founding member of Bella Abzug’s movement Women Strike for Peace.
Following Max’s death in 1989, Gordon took over The Vanguard, which first opened its doors in 1935 and has hosted everyone from Miles Davis to Bill Evans to John Coltrane. Today, it remains the longest-running jazz club in New York’s history.
In 2006, Gordon published a memoir, Alive at the Village Vanguard, which was co-written with Barry Singer, that details her storied life in the jazz world. In 2013, she was presented with the honor of “Jazz Master” by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Gordon is survived by her daughters, Deborah and Rebecca Gordon, and her grandson Antonio Jubela-Gordon. According to Vanguard manager, Jed Eisenman, Deborah Gordon will take over ownership of the venue from her mother.
Funeral arrangements are being directed by Provenzano Lanza Funeral Home in Manhattan. A memorial will be held at the Village Vanguard the weekend of June 15; Information will be made available via: villagevanguard.com.