Jazz keyboardist Lyle Mays dies at 66

His frequent collaborator Pat Metheny released a stirring tribute.

Jazz keyboardist and frequent Pat Metheny collaborator Lyle Mays has died. He was 66.

The influential musician passed away on Monday after a “long battle with a recurring illness,” Metheny said in a statement on his website, adding that “Lyle was one of the greatest musicians I have ever known.”

“Across more than 30 years, every moment we shared in music was special. From the first notes we played together, we had an immediate bond. His broad intelligence and musical wisdom informed every aspect of who he was in every way. I will miss him with all my heart,” Metheny continued.

Mays’ niece, Aubrey Johnson, subsequently confirmed the keyboardist’s death. “It is with deep sadness that I share that my uncle, Lyle Mays, passed away this morning in Los Angeles surrounded by loved ones,” she tweeted. “He was my dear uncle, mentor and friend, and words cannot express the depth of my grief.”


Mays co-founded The Pat Metheny Group in 1977, alongside the acclaimed guitarist himself. Throughout his decades-long career with the group, the keyboardist co-wrote the bulk of the band’s discography and earned a reputation as a virtuosic composer and keyboard innovator.

Besides his work with Metheny, Mays released a string of solo albums, the last being 2016’s The Ludwigsburg Concert. He had also worked with a wide range of artists, including Joni Mitchell, Earth, Wind & Fire, Bobby McFerrin and Betty Buckley.

RIP, Lyle Mays. Listen to The Pat Metheny Group’s self-titled debut album below:


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