“It was Saturday [March 12, 1955], and Charlie [Parker] had stopped drinking those big quantities of ice water. The Baroness helped move him to another part of the room so that he would be closer to the TV set. The Tommy Dorsey Show was due on in a few minutes, and Charlie wanted to see that….
Dorsey’s theme was Getting Setimental Over You. The way Dorsey played it, the tune didn’t swing very much, but Charlie liked the silky sound that T.D. got from the trombone. Then a juggler came on. Charlie had seen the same juggling act in vaudeville as a boy in Kansas City. The same thing the juggler did on the Tommy Dorsey show with trick bricks had been done in 1933 in vaudeville…
Charlie began to laugh. “Crazy!” He laughed aloud in his deep, hearty, uninhibited laugh. Ridiculous, but it still fooled people, just as it had in Kansas City. He liked that. It broke him up. The laughter became louder. As he continued to laugh, there was an intense rush of pain and a giddy sensation. He began to choke. There was blood in his throat, and he was choking… Inside him there was a sensation of something vital giving a way. Collapsing. Then the pain became overpowering. A massive, numbing impact of pain. Like a supershot of high- grade heroin….
The stomach wall perforated by the peptic ulcer. The heart driven to its final, spasmodic, locked systole. The answer would never be quite clear. The mechanism that enable Charlie Parker to ball, scoff, jive, turn on, con, act, to play the saxophone, sustaining the column of air in the throat, controlling the stiff reeds, supplying the energy to the musical computer in the brain, driving the fingers as they rattled against the levers and the keys-all came to a stop.”
(Russell, Ross, Bird Lives!, Quarter Books, London: 1994)