Beegie Adair, jazz musician and distinguished WKU alumna, passes away at 84


Jazz musician and WKU alumna Bobbe Gorin “Beegie” Adair passed away Sunday, Jan. 23, at the age of 84.

Michael J. Collins, Editor-in-Chief

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to the Jazz Hero Award as the International Jazz Hero Award. The Herald regrets this error.

Jazz musician and WKU alumna Bobbe Gorin “Beegie” Adair passed away Sunday, Jan. 23, at the age of 84, according to her website.

“The world has lost a true American treasure, but how tremendously fortunate we all are to have entered her sphere and to experience the joy of the music she created,” the website states. “By the body of work she created and through legions of her students, colleagues, fans and friends the world over, Beegie’s music will be shared and heard for generations to come.”


Adair was born in Cave City and graduated from WKU in 1958 with a B.S. in music education. She learned piano at age 5 and developed a love of jazz playing with various bands in college, Adair said in a 1991 NPR interview on Piano Jazz with host Marian McPartland.

Adair moved to Nashville after college to teach music, eventually becoming a session musician for The Johnny Cash Show, The Ralph Emery Early Morning Show and the WSM Radio Noon Show.

During her musical career that spanned over 6 decades, Adair appeared on over 100 albums, contributing to the works of artists such as Dolly Parton, Henry Mancini, Chet Atkins, Peggy Lee, Ray Stevens and many more.

She released her first studio album under her own name in 1991, called “Escape To New York,” and went on to release a total of 35 albums. 

The Beegie Adair Trio, consisting of herself, bassist Roger Spencer and percussionist Chris Brown, became the top-selling jazz artist in Japan in 2010. They performed across the world, selling out of tickets in venues like Carnegie Hall and the PizzaExpress Jazz Club in London.

Adair garnered immense praise for her work and life. She was inducted into the WKU Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 2016 and received the Jazz Hero Award from the Jazz Journalist Association in 2013.

In recent years, Adair joined manager and friend Monica Ramey to regularly host “Happy Hour with Beegie” on Youtube, where Adair invited musicians, colleagues and loved ones to come and discuss their careers and lives.

In a tweet from Dec. 16, 2021, Adair said she and Ramey would be taking Christmas Eve off to enjoy “a quiet, reflective night in our pajamas, with a glass of wine & a zoo of kitties all around us.”

“We have many reasons to reflect and be glad this year, including wonderful fans and friends like you who supported us when we needed it the most,” Adair said. “You’ll never know how much that means to us.”

Adair will be inturned at Williamson Memorial Gardens in Franklin, Tennessee. A Celebration of Life will be conducted at a later date.

According to the funeral home, memorials may be made to Nashville Jazz Workshop,; Billy Adair Scholarship Fund Vanderbilt University,; Williamson County Animal Center,; or St. Joseph Indian School,

Editor-in-Chief Michael J. Collins can be reached at michael.collins527@ Follow him on Twitter @mjcollinsnews.