Washington played on black nickel-plated saxophones including a SX90R alto, SX90R tenor, and soprano
On December 17, 1999, while waiting in the green room after taping four songs for the The Early Show, at CBS Studios in New York City, Washington collapsed. He was taken to St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at about 7:30 p.m. He was 56 years old. His doctors determined that he had suffered a massive heart attack.