Bebop sax player Frank Morgan told Terry Gross in 1987 that "in prison, the instrument was the thing that kept me sane — the chance to play it with hope."
Frank Morgan, a bebop-jazz sax player who modeled his playing style after Charlie Parker's, died Dec. 14 at age 73. After some early successes, Morgan succumbed to heroin addiction, which led to 30 years of crime and imprisonment — and an absence from the stage.
But while he was in jail, Morgan did play with other inmates; most famously, he and Art Pepper formed a small ensemble at San Quentin.
The Washington Post reports: "Once asked why so many jazz musicians became addicts, [Morgan] replied: 'It's about being hip. Jazz musicians would rather be dead than not be hip.'"
Fresh Air remembers Morgan with an archival interview from August 1987.