Fan’s Search for Grave of Jazz Musician Lee Morgan Reaches Startling Coda in Feasterville

grave marker
Image via Nate Chinen at NPR.
Final Feasterville resting spot of jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan.

Lee Morgan, a prominent 1950s–1960s jazz trumpeter, had a tragically short career. The 33-year-old performer was killed by his common-law wife in 1972 and buried in White Chapel Memorial Park, Feasterville, next to his father. NPR’s Nate Chinen uncovered the story of a recent, surprising revelation unearthed there.

Morgan succeeded as both a recording and concert artist. His discography comprised more than 30 albums on the Blue Note label, and a snip of one single, “The Sidewinder,” accompanied a then-high-profile commercial for Chrysler.

His story is again becoming prominent, owing to a 2016 documentary now on Netflix, I Called Him Morgan.

Phila. jazz fan Tommy Maguire learned of Morgan’s resting spot and traveled to Feasterville to find it.

At the White Chapel Memorial Park site where Lee Morgan rested, a map indicated where the grave was supposed to be. But upon arrival at the spot, Maguire found nothing but a grassy plot.

He then enlisted the help of a groundskeeper who thrust a shovel into the ground, searching for any sign of the marker. After a few thuds, a metallic clang rang forth.

The pair excavated Morgan’s marker and his father’s, rescuing them from beneath nearly a foot of dirt that had accumulated over the decades.

Finding the memorial, Maguire said, brought mixed emotions. “It was dramatic, and it was really sad,” he reflected.

More on the career of Lee Morgan and the reclamation of his grave marker is at NPR.