Pat Martino’s health timeline as jazz guitarist dies aged 77

Darcy Rafter November 2, 2021
Pat Martino’s health timeline as jazz guitarist dies aged 77
Photo by Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images

Legendary jazz guitarist Pat Martino has died aged 77 and fans are distraught – let’s take a look at his health timeline as the musician fought back from brain surgery.

Martino’s manager confirmed the guitarist passed away in South Philadelphia on Monday in the house he grew up in.

Martino’s full name is Patrick Azzara and he grew up in South Philadelphia before leaving school and moving to Harlem to further his guitar skills.

He began playing the guitar professionally at only 15 years old and was one of the legendary jazz guitarists of the 1960s.

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Pat Martino’s health timeline

Martino has been suffering from health problems for a long time and even underwent brain surgery in 1980 following an aneurysm. Following the procedure, the legendary musician was forced to relearn how to play the guitar. The life-saving procedure gave Pat Martino a fresh start in life and thankfully his memory gradually returned.

The star had also been battling a chronic respiratory disorder since 2018 and has even suffered from severe health conditions since birth.

Martino was born with an arteriovenous malformation, which means a group of blood vessels in the body have formed incorrectly.

This meant he experienced seizures throughout his life and led to the life-threatening aneurysm in 1980.

The artist stopped performing when he was unable to finish his 2018 tour in Italy. Performing became impossible as he was on oxygen 24 hours a day and couldn’t squeeze his left hand, meaning he was unable to play the guitar.

Martino wasn’t healthy enough for lung transplant

Pat Martino developed an illness that worsened his lungs, already weak from his COPD. He lost a lot of weight and doctors said he wasn’t healthy enough for what he desperately needed – a double lung transplant.

Martino was being cared for by his wife, Aya, and was at severe risk throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

His manager, Joseph Donofrio, started a GoFundMe page for Martino in March to help pay his medical bills. The fundraiser met its $150,000 goal and continued to raise more money for the musician.

Legendary jazz guitarist forgets how to play

After losing his memory, the iconic jazz guitarist was keen to relearn his skills and would listen to recordings of himself playing to help him learn. This also aided his mental health.

Speaking on Lehigh Valley Live in 2019, Martino said: “The guitar became a utensil, unlike the way it used to be. It used to be a profession and became a career.

“It became another utensil that provided what was provocatively fulfilling.

“The medication that was being prescribed for recovery was going to subdue something that was so incredibly destructive at the time and that didn’t work and that produced a great deal of amplification in the frustration.

“It was either I do something that absorbed my attention or consider suicide. I reached that level and I chose the former and began to play with toys as a child does.

“My favourite toy, as it always was, proved to be the one that was beneficial to begin with and that was the guitar.”

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Darcy is an experienced journalist passionate about celebrity culture and entertainment. After gaining a degree in Media and Communications at Goldsmiths University she has also become a social media specialist, always keeping informed on the latest trends. With almost five years of experience in media, her expertise is analysing platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. When she's not tracking the latest trending content, she’s watching films and eating lots of chocolate.