Berklee Today

Final Cadence

Nick Brignola '58

Pianist Richard Jackson '48 of Bedford, MA, died December 22, 2001. He was 84. Jackson attended Berklee after serving in the U.S. Air Force in France and England during WW II. For many years, he worked as a lounge pianist in Waterville, NH.

Albert Williamson '49 of Holyoke, MA, passed away on January 9, 2002. He was 74. Williamson attended Berklee after serving in the U.S. Army during WWII. During his early years, he had played with many top artists including Stan Kenton, Artie Shaw, and the Jack Parr Band. He worked as a salesman until retiring in 1997. Williamson is survived by his wife Babette, two sons, a daughter, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Baritone saxophonist Nick Brignola '58 of Eagle Mills, NY, died of cancer on February 8. He was 65. Brignola played with many jazz musicians including Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Woody Herman, and Buddy Rich. He had studied music at Ithaca College before winning Down Beat magazine's Critics Poll as a "New Star," netting him a scholarship to Berklee.

Brignola issued several albums as a leader and received a Grammy nomination in 1981 for his L.A. Bound album. Recently, Brignola had been teaching jazz theory and history at four Upstate New York colleges. He is survived by his wife Yvonne, two daughters, a son, and a granddaughter.

Vocalist Lorraine (Nyman) Merritt of Billerica, MA, died on January 30. She was 59. Born in Chelsea, MA. At age 11, she appeared on the local Boston television show Community Auditions and was voted the top act by the show's viewers for several weeks. She attended both Berklee and New England Conservatory. After beginning her professional career at resorts in the Catskill Mountains, she traveled widely and sang with Ella Fitzgerald, Eddie Fisher, and Tony Bennett. She leaves two daughters and three grandchildren.

Gordon Wallace '73 of Newton, MA, died suddenly on December 31. He was 51. Wallace had played with many local-area rock bands and also worked as an electronic technician at Krone Industries in Peabody, MA. He is survived by his wife Jane, a son, and three stepchildren.

Studio engineer and drummer Tom Perkins '98 of Los Angeles, CA, died in May. He was 29. Perkins apparently collapsed while jogging and could not be resucitated.

Berklee Trustee Emeritus Gregory Larkin passed away on Sunday May 12. He was 97. Larkin was a member of Berklee's board of trustees for 19 years and was its chair from 1966-70. Larkin had worked closely with Berklee founder Lawrence Berk after WW II to facilitate music education for veterans at Berk's new school.

A clarinetist, Larkin played professionally from the age of 14. He worked most recently with the Mummers Band in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. He is survived by two sisters, a son, four grandchildren, and one great grandchild. Donations in his memory may be made to the Greg Larkin Scholarship Fund at Berklee by calling (617) 747-2569.

Former Berklee trumpet instructor Bud Billings passed away on April 27. He had played trumpet for Frank Sinatra, Harry James, and in the CBS Orchestra for the Carol Burnett and Steve Allen shows. He was a popular teacher at the college and had written charts for the Herb Pomeroy Band.


In the spring 2002 issue of Berklee Today, incorrectly listed an obituary for Jay Lester '73 of Florida. The correct name of the deceased should have been listed as Steve Lester '73 of New York and Florida. The John Steven Lester Memorial Scholarship, has been established at Berklee in his memory.