The veteran saxophone player was musical director for Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald

Veteran British jazz musician Sir John Dankworth died yesterday (February 6) aged 82.

The saxophonist and musical director, who passed away in hospital in London, worked as the musical director for stars such as Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald, as well as fronting a number of his own bands, including The Dankworth Generation Band and The Dankworth Seven.

He also composed a number of popular television theme tunes, including those for The Avengers and Tomorrow’s World.

His wife, singer Cleo Laine, announced his death at a concert at the couple’s theatre in Buckinghamshire last night. Dankworth‘s agent Jim Murtha later told the BBC: “For British jazz and jazz around the world, I believe John has become such an international figure, particularly since he became Sir John Dankworth a few years ago.”

After learning of his knighthood in 2006, Dankworth revealed his joy to the BBC, saying: “It’s so nice for jazz to get something like this. As far as I know I’m the first from the jazz world to get a knighthood. I’ve played jazz for 65 years, with the great jazz men. For some reason I’ve been in the right place at the right time.”

Johnny Dankworth, as he was commonly known, leaves behind his wife and two children, both jazz musicians.