Jan. 17, 1922–Oct. 11, 1996
January 17 would have been Johnny Costa’s 92nd birthday. It still seems as if it were yesterday that I saw him for the last time. “I don’t have much time left,” he said, 18 years ago. No matter how long Johnny lived would not have been long enough. He was very special. No one ever played beautiful tunes better than Johnny. And no one can ever fill the void that my precious, irreplaceable friend left in my life.
Costa was admired by many jazz giants: Benny Carter, Dave Brubeck, Tommy Dorsey, Dizzy Gillespie, Scott Hamilton, Dick Hyman, Jack Teagarden, Mel Torme, Teddy Wilson, among many others.
During the final decade of Johnny's life, I traveled to Pittsburgh many times, spending as much time with him as his failing health permitted. I met his family and many of his friends, all of whom have been gracious to me, particularly Debbie Costa Elwood, his daughter, and Clara Nelson, his sister, both who became good friends.
I will never forget observing the respect, love, and admiration extended to Johnny everywhere we went— waiters at restaurants, the butcher at the market, the sound engineer at Audiomation recording studio, members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and hundreds of fans who attended his final concert in Harrisburg, PA, men and women who followed his career for decades.
This website is dedicated to Johnny Costa, the man I love, an extraordinary person and nonpareil pianist. It is my hope you will learn about Johnny—the man, his music, and an irreplaceable friend.