Jazz pianist and composer George Shearing, best known for composing the standard "Lullaby of Birdland," passed away in Manhattan on Monday morning of congestive heart failure, according his longtime manager Dan Sheets. He was 91.
Shearing, who was born on August 13, 1919, in Battersea, London, composed more than 300 titles, landing multiple albums on the "Billboard" charts throughout the 1950s to 1990s.
After arriving in America from England — where he'd already developed a following — in 1947, Shearing scored an early hit with a 1949 version of Harry Warren's "September in the Rain" with his George Shearing Quintet. "Lullaby of Birdland" came in 1952, cementing his reputation in the jazz world, though Shearing would later write that the composition of the song was "as accidental as it could be."
The pianist's many collaborations included work with such vocalists as Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee and Mel Tormé.
Shearing was recognized for his musical contributions by Queen Elizabeth II in 2007, receiving a knighthood. He was also awarded two Grammys, in 1984 and 1998, and was bestowed the Ivor Novello Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1993.