Coltrane was born on September 23, 1926 in Hamlet, NC. He grew up and learned to play saxophone in High Point, NC, graduating from William Penn High School at the age of 16 in 1943. While in high school, Coltrane’s musical influences were Lester Young and Johnny Hodges prompting him to switch to alto saxophone.
He left High Point shortly after graduation, moving to Philadelphia, PA where he began a study of the saxophone in earnest. After a stint in the Navy during World War II (he was part of the band) Coltrane met, performed and recorded with Dizzy Gillespie, Johnny Hodges, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and other jazz legends. Coltrane helped pioneer the use of modes in jazz and later was at the forefront of the free jazz movement.
He formed his own quartet in 1960 which included pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones. The “classic” John Coltrane Quartet created some of the most quintessential albums in Jazz history including: “My Favorite Things”, “Africa Brass”, “Impressions”, “Giant Steps” and his signature work “A Love Supreme”.
Sadly, Coltrane died of liver disease on July 15, 1967. The power and expressive eloquence of Coltrane’s music has influenced the generations of musician to follow.
Visit the official website for John Coltrane and read more about his life, music and legacy.