Special to the Recorder
A portrait of John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery is the newest addition to the Hoosier Heritage Gallery that adorns the south wall of the office of Gov. Mitch Daniels.
“We are honoring a great musician whose influence was felt far beyond his years,” Daniels said.
Born in Indianapolis in 1923, Montgomery is widely considered to be one of the most influential jazz guitarists in the history of the genre.
A self-taught musician, Montgomery learned by studying guitarist Charlie Christian. He collaborated with many famous jazz musicians during his career, including a two-year tour with Lionel Hampton in the late 1940s.
Montgomery was nominated for several Grammy awards, winning two. A number of legendary guitarists, including Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Pete Townshend have pointed to Montgomery as a great influence.
Montgomery died of a sudden heart attack at the height of his popularity in 1968. In 1970, the city of Indianapolis named a park in his honor; Wes Mont Park is located on North Hawthorne Lane.
The portrait, painted in 1990 by Joel Washington, is on loan from the Indiana University Art Museum’s Indiana Memorial Union collection in Bloomington. It replaces the portrait of Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom in the gallery.
In January 2006, Gov. Daniels designated the south wall of his office as a place for portraits of historically important Hoosiers – a change in the longstanding tradition of hanging portraits solely of former governors. The portraits, which are loaned to the state, are part of a rotating exhibit that is updated periodically.