Joe Negri

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Joe Negri
Negri performing with Carnegie Mellon University in 2007
Negri performing with Carnegie
Mellon University
in 2007
Background information
Birth nameJoseph Harold Negri
Born (1926-06-10) June 10, 1926 (age 97)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Occupation(s)Musician, educator, actor
Years active1929–present

Joseph Harold Negri (born June 10, 1926) is an American jazz guitarist and educator.[1] He appeared as himself and as "Handyman Negri" in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe segments on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.[1] He appeared on the 1959 children's television program Adventure Time and with Johnny Costa on the 1954 TV series 67 Melody Lane hosted by Ken Griffin.

Negri taught jazz guitar for 49 years at the University of Pittsburgh,[2] where jazz guitar was first offered as a discipline in higher education.[3][4] He taught for 46 years at Duquesne University,[3][1] as well as at Carnegie Mellon University.


Joe Negri began performing on radio at age three, playing the ukulele and singing. He joined the local musicians' union and began playing professional engagements. In the 1940s, he toured nationally and was a member of the Shep Fields Orchestra from 1943 until 1944, when he entered the Army for two years.

After returning home, he performed in Pittsburgh with his brother, pianist Bobby Negri. He enrolled at Carnegie Mellon University, concentrated on music composition, and spent the 50's playing locally around the Pittsburgh area and often worked with pianist Johnny Costa on KDKA television. His trio, with accordionlist Dom Trimarkie and bassist Lou Mauro, were the regular band on the live KDKA variety show "Buzz and Bill," hosted by the team of Buzz Aston and Bill Hinds. Around 1960, WTAE, Pittsburgh's ABC television outlet, hired him as their Music Director. Negri played on various live programs and composed theme music as well. He spent the next twenty-two years working at WTAE as music director. He met Fred Rogers at WTAE, when Rogers hosted a short-lived children's show. In 1968, Negri began appearing as Handyman Negri in the children's program Mister Rogers' Neighborhood for nearly 40 years until Rogers stopped producing new episodes in 2000. Though many assume Negri was part of the musical ensemble on the show, in fact he only occasionally joined the show's band on special occasions. Most of his work on the program involved his Handyman Negri character or portraying himself as owner of "Negri's Music Shop" when Rogers presented musical guests.

Negri taught guitar and later helped Duquesne University establish a jazz guitar program. Over the years he taught many students including Ralph Patt,[5] the inventor of major-thirds tuning.[6][7] Negri and Patt recorded in 1989.[8]

In 2010 he recorded the album Fly Me to the Moon with Michael Feinstein[1] and performed with him during the next year at the Newport Jazz Festival. Negri was the subject of a profile in the September 2010 issue of Vintage Guitar magazine written by Rich Kienzle.

Joe Negri archives[edit]

The Joe Negri archives consist of the collection of manuscripts, recordings, memorabilia, and original hand-written scores that document his life, work and influence. The collection was donated by Negri in 1999 to the Center for American Music within the University Library System (ULS) at the University of Pittsburgh. The donation became the 1,000th collection at the ULS to have an electronically accessible finding aid (i.e., a guide that describes the contents of an archival collection and creator).[9][10][11] The archives contains correspondence, commissioned commercial musical compositions, scores, recordings and television archival footage. His donation also included his college coursework, compositions written for the River City Brass Band, television scores, commercial jingles, and film work.[10][12] Companies that commissioned work from Negri included McDonald's, Alcoa, Kaufmann's, and Westinghouse.


As leader[edit]

  • Afternoon in Rio (MCG Jazz, 1998)
  • Guitars for Christmas (MCG Jazz, 2003)
  • Uptown Elegance (MCG Jazz, 2004) with Buddy DeFranco
  • Dream Dancing (Noteworthy Jazz, 2010)

As sideman[edit]

Other works[edit]

  • A Common Sense Approach to Improvisation for Guitar (Mel Bay, 2002)


  1. ^ a b c d Rose, Joel (August 9, 2010). "Joe Negri: From handyman to jazz guitarist". All Things Considered. NPR, National Public Radio. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
  2. ^ Harrop, JoAnne Klimovich (April 25, 2019). "Iconic Pittsburgh musician Joe Negri retires from Pitt". Pittsburgh Triune-Review. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Kirkland, Kevin (April 26, 2019). "Joe Negri retires from teaching at Pitt. But he's not putting away his guitar". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  4. ^ Iconic Pittsburgh musician Joe Negri (MP4). April 25, 2019. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  5. ^ Patt, Ralph (14 April 2008). "Biography". Patt's jazz web page. Biography: Retrieved August 10, 2012.
  6. ^ Griewank (2010, p. 1):Griewank, Andreas (1 January 2010), Tuning Guitars and Reading Music in Major Thirds, Matheon preprints, vol. 695, Berlin: DFG research center "Matheon, Mathematics for key technologies" Berlin, MSC-Classification 97M80 Arts. Music. Language. Architecture. Postscript file and Pdf file
  7. ^ Patt, Ralph (April 14, 2008). "The major 3rd tuning". Ralph Patt's jazz web page. Ralph Patt for 6-, 7-, and 8-string guitars: cited by Sethares (2011) and Griewank (2010, p. 1). Retrieved June 10, 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  8. ^ Slater, Neil; LaRocco, Dave; Negri, Joe; Patt, Ralph; Ryan, Rodger (1989). "Streaming audio index: Audio clips". Like Someone in Love. Ralph Patt's Jazz Web Page. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  9. ^ "Joe Negri Archives". Benedetto Guitars. Archived from the original on September 29, 2015. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  10. ^ a b "Joe Negri collection". Guides to Archives and Manuscript Collections at the University of Pittsburgh Library System. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  11. ^ Tipping, Emily. "Joe Negri Donates Musical Collection to Pitt". Pitt Campaign Chronicle. University of Pittsburgh. Archived from the original on June 30, 2015. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  12. ^ Barlow, Kimberly K. "Guides untangle 1,000 ULS collections". University Times. Retrieved September 28, 2015.

Further reading[edit]



  • Barth, Joe (2006). Voices in Jazz Guitar : Great Performers Talk About Their Approach to Playing. Pacific, MO : Mel Bay.
  • Chapman, Charles. (2001). "Joe Negri (September 1999)". Interviews with the Jazz Greats... and More!. Pacific, MO: Mel Bay Publications. pp. 48–50.
  • Negri, Joe (2002). A Common Sense Approach to Improvisation for Guitar. Pacific, MO: Mel Bay.