John Coltrane

John Coltrane

Tenor Sax icon Tenor Sax, Soprano Sax

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July 17, 1967 (Age 40) died

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Hamlet, North Carolina, U.S. Birthplace

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Acclaimed saxophonist and composer John Coltrane is known for his innovative techniques and groundbreaking recordings such as Giant Steps (1960) and A Love Supreme (1965). After picking up the saxophone in his teens he began playing with various jazz bands in the 1940s and 1950s including stints with Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and Thelonius Monk. In the 1960s he experimented with modal and free jazz and produced some of the most influential albums in jazz. John Coltrane died of liver cancer at the age of 40 in 1967.


Before picking up the saxophone, Coltrane played alto horn and clarinet.Coltrane made his first recording on July 13, 1946 with Navy musicians while stationed in Hawaii during WWII.The church St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church located in San Francisco dedicated to John Coltrane and his music.

Early Life

John Coltrane was born in Hamlet, North Carolina in 1926 to John R. Coltrane, a tailor and amateur musician, and Alice Coltrane. His father and several other family members died in 1939 leaving John to be raised by his mother, aunt and cousin. The family moved to Philadelphia in 1943 where Coltrane attended the Granhoff School of Music and began playing in local clubs. He joined the Navy in 1945 and was stationed in Hawaii. In 1946 he returned to Philadelphia and began his music career in earnest.