PAULDING — Rodgers Lee Grant, a renowned jazz pianist who wrote the 1963 hit "Yeh! Yeh!," died Thursday in a Defiance hospice center. He was 76.
Grant suffered from several types of cancer, said his wife, Louise Grant, of Paulding.
He was a prodigious jazz player who wrote and recorded a number of songs while leading bands and playing in various groups and as a hotel pianist in New York.
He was a long-time member of Mongo Santamaria's band, helping the Cuban congo player and band leader fuse jazz and Latin styles of music. He also recorded with George Benson, Hubert Laws, and a number of other artists.
Grant wrote "Yeh! Yeh!" in 1963 with Pat Patrick. Toledo vocalist Jon Hendricks added original lyrics and recorded his version of the song, which later became an international hit for Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames.
Mrs. Grant said her husband was a pianist for about 20 years at the Raleigh Hotel and he also played in other hotels over the years.
They were married for 12 years and moved to Paulding six years ago to be near her family after living in New York for six years, she said. Grant was an Army veteran.
"He was a wonderful, wonderful man. He was thoughtful, he was funny, I mean he could make me laugh," she said. "He was just great. I don't think anything can be said bad about him."
In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Mandingo Ndingi, of Oakland, Calif.; a daughter, Biah Bia Buchongo, of Oakland; one stepson, Don Stevenson, of Cecil, Ohio; four stepdaughters: Becky Jackson, of Bluffton, Ind.; Jackie Adams, of Oakwood, Ohio; Sally Stevenson, of Dunedin, New Zealand, and Richelle Britt, of Paulding.
Services will be Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Den Herder Funeral Home in Paulding.
The family suggests tributes be made to CHP Hospice, Defiance.
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