SPOKANE — A giant in the Spokane jazz scene is dead. Arnie Carruthers died Monday at the age of 81 after a lengthy illness.
Many considered Carruthers as the godfather of jazz who influenced many of the major players in the Spokane music scene.
A car accident left him immobile. A stroke took away the use of one of his hands. But that didn’t stop him. Many said Carruthers was a character and a musician’s musician who played off and on in the lobby of the Davenport Hotel in the 1970s and 1980s. He invented new chords and his talent gained some attention across the country.
“These artists would come in. Major artists off the road and they’d hear Arnie playing. They’d say this guy is great and they’d look and realize he was doing this with one hand. He’d figure out a way to re-do it,” said Spokane Falls Community College Music Director David Wakely.
A tribute to Arnie has been in the works for several years. It is scheduled for next weekend. Apparently Arnie knew about the tribute. He was excited about it and had even gone back to the piano to practice in hopes of being able to play. But he succumbed to his illness before that happened.
The show will go on March 19 at Spokane Falls Community College in building 15 at 7:00 p.m. Many alumni who have played with Arnie over the years will perform along with Arnie’s children.