Jazz guitarist was strangled

LOS ANGELES -- Guitarist Lenny Breau, found dead in the swimming pool of his apartment building last Sunday, was strangled and his death has been ruled a homicide, the Coroner's Office disclosed Friday.

Police said the case was under investigation, but no suspects had been arrested.


The 43-year-old Canadian guitarist, revered by such colleagues as Chet Atkins, was found dead at the Wilshire-area apartment building where he lived with his wife and daughter.

'Although the musician's death was first believed to have been caused by drowning,' coroner's spokesman Bill Gold said, 'extensive medical studies following autopsy indicated certain injuries about the neck as being consistent with those found in stangulation.

'The death has been ruled a homicide.'

Gold said routine toxicological tests for drugs and alcohol would be conducted on Breau's body.

Atkins, who was responsible for Breau's first albums, said the guitarist was 'one of the greatest of all time, one of the greatest I ever knew or hope to know.

'I guess what made Lenny so great was that he played flamenco very well, jazz very, very well, and he could play country because that was his roots.'

Breau was born in Auburn, Maine, to parents who were country and western singers. He appeared on stage with them when he was 3 and toured in Grand Ole Opry shows when he was 12 as 'Lone Pine Jr.'


Atkins, who had toured with Breau's parents, decided to work with the young guitarist in 1968 after hearing tapes of his music. Breau made about eight albums under his own name and played on records by other jazz greats.

He led a trio at the Shelley's Manne Hole nightclub in Los Angeles in the 1960s, and at the time of his death was performing and giving weekly seminars at Donte's, a jazz nightclub in the North Hollywood district.

He also played with his own trio, fronted by singer Don Franks, in Toronto in the mid '60s.

He is survived by his wife, Jewel, and daughter Dawn Rose Marie, 3.

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