John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery was a prominent jazz guitarist who was a great influence for other artists such as Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix.
Montgomery was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. According to NPR Jazz Profiles “The Life and Music Of Wes Montgomery”, the nickname “Wes” was a child’s abbreviation of his middle name, Leslie.
Montgomery was raised in a musical family; his brothers, Monk (double bass and electric bass) and Buddy (vibraphone and piano), were jazz performers. The brothers released a number of albums together as the Montgomery Brothers. Montgomery toured with Lionel Hampton early in his career; however, the combined stress of touring and being away from family took him back home to Indianapolis to his family.
John Coltrane asked Montgomery to join his band after a jam session, but Montgomery continued to lead his own band. Boss Guitar (1963) seems to refer to his status as a guitar-playing bandleader. He also made contributions to recordings by Jimmy Smith.
By the time Montgomery released his first album, A Day in the Life (1967), for A&M Records, he had seemingly abandoned jazz entirely for the more lucrative pop market, though as in his Verve period he played his customary jazz in small group settings in live appearances.
On the morning of June 15, 1968, while at home in Indianapolis, Indiana, Montgomery awoke and remarked to his wife that he “didn’t feel very well.” He soon collapsed, dying of a heart attack within minutes, Montgomery was 45 years old at the time of his death.