A native of Springfield, Massachusetts, Morello was sight-impaired as a child and studied the violin, performing at age nine with Boston Symphony Orchestra as a soloist in the Mendelsohn Violin Concerto, according to his biography. He switched to the drums at age 15.
Brubeck released a statement, saying: Drummers worldwide remember Joe as one of the greatest drummers we have known. Many people consider the rhythm section of Eugene Wright and Joe Morello in my quartet as being one of the most consistent, swinging rhythm sections in jazz... His drum solo on 'Take Five' is still being heard around the world."
On the Home Page of Morello's web site was a simple note: It is with great sadness that we report Joe's passing on March 12, 2011.His impact on the world of music and on all those whose lives he touched will live forever."