Toots, 91, calls it quits

Toots, 91, calls it quits


norman lebrecht

March 13, 2014



Toots-Thielemans-6Toots Thielemans, the Belgian harmonica virtuoso, cancelled a concert in Antwerp last night. It was his second stand-down in three months and he decided it’s time to retire.

He earned his greatest fame on the soundtracks of Midnight Cowboy and Jean de Florette.

Ah, bye-bye, blackbird.


photo courtesy




  • ruben greenberg says:

    Toots made magic with his harmonica. As a tribute to him, I will buy a harmonica this week end and learn how to play it. My goal is to play the Mendelssohn violin Concerto on it.

  • Rainer Klauss says:

    This is a fine tribute to one of my favorite musicians. I did not realized he played on the “Jean de Florette” soundtrack. That gives me a good reason to watch that fine movie for the third time.

  • franklin says:

    Do they still allow prisoners to play the harmonica in lock up?

  • Gunnar says:

    Not only is he pretty unique on his instrument and genre but led an unbelievably productive career. I know of no followers. I am sure he had lots of fun and made others happy playing.

  • ruben greenberg says:

    Toots” playing sends chills up my spine; all of this with an instrument that fits into one’s pocket and one can play underneath the bridges and the arches when one is down and out. Try fitting a double-bass or grand piano into your pocket!

  • Michael J. Stewart says:

    Impeccable musicianship.

  • Michael J. Stewart says:

    I thought it might be nice to add this wonderful piece of magic too.