Jazz pianist Lyle Mays, co-founder of the Pat Metheny Group, dies at 66

Acclaimed US jazz pianist Lyle Mays, a co-founder of the Pat Metheny Group, has died at the age of 66.

Mays met Metheny in 1974, and together they would go on to win 11 Grammy Awards. Mays also pursued a solo career and served as a sideman for the likes of Joni Mitchell, Rickie Lee Jones and Earth and Wind & Fire.

More than just a pianist, Mays was also an accomplished composer, arranger and orchestrator, playing guitar and trumpet, too. Born into a musical family, he was performing in public by the age of nine, playing the organ at a family member’s wedding, before being introduced to jazz in his teens.

Confirming the news of Mays’ death on his website, Pat Metheny said: “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.”

His niece Aubrey Johnson - herself a jazz musician - said: “Lyle was a brilliant musician and person, and a genius in every sense of the word. He was my dear uncle, mentor, and friend and words cannot express the depth of my grief.”

Mays died in Los Angeles surrounded by his loved ones, following a long battle with “a recurring illness”.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.