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Jazz ambassador and actress’s father Bob Ringwald dies

Ringwald was known as ‘The Emperor of Jazz’ after organising the now-traditional Sacramento Jazz Festival.

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Robert Ringwald and his daughter, the actress Molly Ringwald, at the Sacramento Music Festival parade (The Sacramento Bee/AP)

Robert Ringwald and his daughter, the actress Molly Ringwald, at the Sacramento Music Festival parade (The Sacramento Bee/AP)

Robert Ringwald and his daughter, the actress Molly Ringwald, at the Sacramento Music Festival parade (The Sacramento Bee/AP)

Robert Ringwald, the pianist who played and promoted jazz in California for more than half a century, has died at the age of 80, according to his daughter, the actress and musician Molly Ringwald.

His daughter wrote in an obituary for the Sacramento Bee that Ringwald, known to friends and fans as Bob, died on August 3. No cause of death was given.

Born in Roseville, California with vision problems, Ringwald went blind at an early age. He began taking piano lessons at the age of five and started his first band at 13.

“Four years later, at the age of 17, he was able to grow enough of a beard to be able to pass for an adult to play in nightclubs as a professional musician, an occupation he held for the next six decades,” his daughter wrote.

At first drawn to modern jazz, the music of Louis Armstrong instilled in Ringwald a lifelong passion for the performance and preservation of traditional New Orleans jazz.

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Robert Ringwald plays the piano as his six-year-old daughter Molly sings in front of the California state Capitol in the 1970s (The Sacramento Bee via AP, File)

Robert Ringwald plays the piano as his six-year-old daughter Molly sings in front of the California state Capitol in the 1970s (The Sacramento Bee via AP, File)

Robert Ringwald plays the piano as his six-year-old daughter Molly sings in front of the California state Capitol in the 1970s (The Sacramento Bee via AP, File)

By the 1970s, Ringwald was playing piano at clubs seven nights a week.

He co-organised the first Sacramento Jazz Festival in 1974, and his band headlined the event, which became an annual city tradition.

In 2012, Ringwald was honoured by the festival as “The Emperor of Jazz”.

In addition to music, Ringwald’s passions included ham radio and the Los Angeles Dodgers, for whom he once served as a guest announcer, reading the line-up in Braille.

“Anyone who knew Bob also knew his mischievous streak, and his ever-present, slightly ribald sense of humour,” Molly Ringwald wrote.

“If you didn’t sufficiently beg to get off of his email joke list, you would have received one just a couple of days before he died.”

Besides his daughter Molly, Robert Ringwald is survived by Adele, his wife of 60 years; a sister, Renee Angus; another daughter, Beth Ringwald Carnes; a son, Kelly Ringwald; two grandsons; two granddaughters; two step-granddaughters; one great-grandson; and one step-great-grandson.

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