John Hammond, the jazz-crazy Yale dropout whose restlessness and receptivity led to the discovery of such diverse talents as Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, died in his Manhattan apartment about noon yesterday as he played an old Holiday recording. He was 76.

A spokesman for CBS Records, where Mr. Hammond spent most of his professional life, said he had been ill for some time.

Mr. Hammond was not only a man of broad and discriminating musical taste, who in the course of 50 years revolutionized and revitalized popular music, he was justly praised as one of the foremost civil rights activists in the industry.

"Everything I was trying to do in the music business was connected to my attempt to rectify the wrongs that had been done to American jazz and black people," he said in 1971 at the University of Maryland.

It was Mr. Hammond, son of a Vanderbilt heiress and an East Side lawyer, who broke the color barrier in recording studios and who persuaded black and white musicians, including Duke Ellington and Goodman, to integrate their bands. It was Mr. Hammond whose silk-stocking background helped him open the doors of many Manhattan night clubs to black performers.

It was Mr. Hammond who produced the first tour of the Goodman trio that featured pianist Teddy Wilson -- the first integrated jazz unit to perform publicly. (Ellington, Mr. Hammond recalled later, was strongly opposed to integrating: "His point was, why help the white bands by filling them with black players, thereby threatening the survival of the Negro bands?")

It was Mr. Hammond who, driving barefoot and coatless through the Midwest swelter with his radio going full blast, discovered the fledgling Count Basie orchestra in Kansas City, Mo.

It was also Mr. Hammond who in 1937, using the alias Henry Johnson, wrote a series of articles for New Masses charging Decca, RCA Victor and Columbia -- for whom he had been working since 1933 -- with unfair labor and recording practices. The articles led to a number of industry reforms.

Mr. Hammond was born Dec. 15, 1910, in a six-story Manhattan mansion, but his heart found its home in Harlem. As a child, he became fascinated by jazz and musicians, and he was a Harlem habitue -- he and his chauffeur -- by the time he was 15. He was an internationally acclaimed jazz critic and commentator at the age of 20.

Mr. Hammond's first major discovery was Holiday, whom he recorded in 1933. Among his later finds were Pete Seeger, Aretha Franklin and George Benson.

Though Mr. Hammond's musical proteges represented a wide range of musical styles, they shared at least one trait: They all broke so radically through the contemporary conventions that they virtually reinvented popular musical theory.

Like Mr. Hammond himself, whom critic Leonard Feather called "the supreme catalyst" in popular music, the performers who stirred Mr. Hammond were themselves stirred to a kind of artistic boil: Goodman, who transformed the dance band from an accompaniment into an active participant; Holiday, whose intimate self-knowledge and disillusion came as a musical revelation to her white audience; Dylan, who alloyed the Village folkie protest movement with the alienation of the beat poets and the electric urgency of the psychedelic era, and Springsteen, the blue-collar visionary whose hunger and faith pulled rock music in the '70s from a disheartened and synthesized despair.

Mr. Hammond continued to work for CBS as a consultant until recently. He is survived by two sons, Jason and blues performer John Paul.

CHARLES F. GESCHICKTER,

86, a pathologist and cancer specialist and a former chairman of the department of pathology at Georgetown University Medical School, died of an aneurysm July 9 while testifying as an expert witness in Baltimore's Superior Court.

Dr. Geschickter was on the staff at Georgetown Medical School from 1946 until he retired in 1978. He was chairman of the department of pathology from 1946 until 1962 and chairman of the department of research pathology from 1962 until his retirement.

He also had a private medical practice in Washington during this period, and was a special consultant in pathology at the National Institutes of Health, a job he continued until his death.

A resident of Lorton, Dr. Geschickter was born in Washington and graduated from Central High School and George Washington University, where he also earned a master's degree in engineering.

He received a medical degree at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, had a fellowship in surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and then was director of surgery and pathology at the cancer research laboratory at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

During World War II he served in the Navy as chairman of the department of pathology at Bethesda Naval Medical Center, while also directing the Garvin Cancer Research Fund at Johns Hopkins. He was awarded a Legion of Merit.

In 1960, Dr. Geschickter became chairman of community development and planning at Georgetown Medical School and helped design the new hospital. He wrote two widely circulated medical books, "Tumors of the Bone" and "Diagnosis in Daily Practice."

While serving in the Navy and afterward he wrote a three-volume color atlas of pathology.

He was a diplomate of the American Board of Pathologists and a member of the College of American Pathologists, the American Medical Association and the Army & Navy Club in Washington.

His wife of 52 years, Mildred Clark Geschickter, died in 1979.

Survivors include two sons, Charles F. Geschickter Jr. of Fairfax and Edmund H. Geschickter of Southborough, Mass.; one daughter, Jacqueline Geschickter of Lorton, and six grandchildren.

BENNETT R. SCARFF,

82, president of the Bray & Scarff appliance and kitchen stores, died of a heart ailment July 9 at the Bethesda Retirement and Nursing Center.

Mr. Scarff, a resident of Chevy Chase, was born in Baltimore and moved to this area in 1930.

He started his business soon after as a service company for Frigidaire appliances and later expanded it to include appliance sales and service to apartment buildings and property managers. Bray & Scarff currently operates eight retail appliance and kitchen stores in the Washington area.

Mr. Scarff's wife, Thelma Scarff, died this year.

Survivors include two sons, Dennis Scarff of Potomac and Richard Scarff of Las Vegas; 10 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

MIGNON GREGORY WILSON,

59, who had worked with handicapped children at the National Children's Center in Washington, died July 6 at Howard University Hospital.

Mrs. Wilson was born in Atlantic City, N.J., and had lived in Washington since the 1940s.

During the 1960s she was one of the original members of African American Wives, an organization that worked at improving relations between Americans and wives of African diplomats assigned here. She was a former president of the Howard University Faculty Wives.

For about five years during the 1970s, Mrs. Wilson worked at the National Children's Center, and was instrumental in organizing the employes union there.

Survivors include her husband, Ernest James Wilson Jr. of Washington; two sons, Ernest J. Wilson III of Ann Arbor, Mich., and Gregory Calvin Wilson of New York City; one daughter, Wendy Wilson Shaw of Washington; three brothers, Thomas M. Gregory of Washington, Hugh H. Gregory of New York City and Eugene C. Gregory of Woodmont, Conn.; one sister, Sheila Gregory Thomas of Martha's Vineyard, Mass., and three grandchildren.

SOLANGE BARBANCHON BUTKOW,

65, a retired French teacher with the National Cathedral School for Girls, died of cancer July 9 at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda. She lived in Rockville.

Mrs. Butkow was born in France. She came to this country in 1946 and settled in the Washington area. She taught at the National Cathedral School from 1961 until she retired in 1977.

Survivors include her husband of 41 years, Bernard Butkow of Rockville; one son, Alan Lee Butkow of Centreville, Va.; her mother, Alice Barbanchon, and one brother, Andre Barbanchon, both of France, and two grandchildren.

DORA R. BLANCHETTE,

94, a Washington area resident since 1977 who operated her own millinery business in New Haven, Conn., from 1905 to 1919, died of congestive heart failure July 8 at Sibley Memorial Hospital. She lived in Bethesda.

Mrs. Blanchette was born in Quebec. She came to this country in 1905 and settled in New Haven.

Her husband, Wilfred H. Blanchette, died in 1955. Survivors include a son, Robert W. Blanchette of Bethesda, and two grandchildren.

BERNICE B. BARNBY,

89, a Washington area resident since 1975 who taught in a private school in New York City during the 1920s, died of a respiratory ailment July 9 at the Goodwin House retirement home in Alexandria.

Mrs. Barnby was born in Kansas City, Mo., and graduated from the University of Kansas.

Her husband, Herbert Alexander Barnby, died in 1965.

Survivors include one daughter, Jean B. Fairman of Bethesda; one son, Donald W. Barnby of Foster City, Calif., and two grandchildren.

WILLIAM BARBER HILL,

74, a retired agent with the Prudential Insurance Co., died of a stroke July 2 at Alexandria Hospital.

A resident of Alexandria, Mr. Hill was born in Munhall, Pa. He moved to the Washington area in 1943, and worked in the operations department of the Pennsylvania Central Airlines, a predecessor of Capital Airlines. In 1948, he went to work for Prudential as an agent. He retired in 1977.

Survivors include his wife of 52 years, Olivia L. Hill of Alexandria; three sons, William C. Hill of Omaha, Terry B. Hill of Burke and Jonathan B. Hill of Leesburg; one sister, Grace Lowry of Derry, Pa.; one brother, John L. Hill of Newcastle, Ind., and four grandchildren.