Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock

Piano icon Piano, Electric Piano

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83 age

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April 12, 1940 Birthday

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Chicago, Illinois, U.S. Birthplace

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Herbie Hancock is a prolific pianist, bandleader and composer. With over 40 studio albums and 14 Grammy Awards spanning the genres of jazz, funk, fusion and film soundtracks it is hard to find a more influential artist. Hancock began his career in the 1960s with Miles Davis, spending 5 years as part of Davis' quintet. In the 1970s Hancock embraced electronic music resulting in the cross-over hit album "Head Hunters" and he experimented throughout the 1980s with fusion sounds. But he never abandoned traditional jazz and continued to perform with jazz groups such as V.S.O.P. In 2008 Hancock won a Grammy for his album "River: The Joni Letters", a jazz treatment of Joni Mitchell songs. He also composed for film, writing scores/soundtracks for 4 films and winning a grammy for the "Round Midnight" score. Currently in his 80's, Hancock continues to perform regularly.


Hancock's 1973 album "Head Hunters" was the first jazz album to go platinum. The video for Hancock's 1983 R&B song "Rockit" won 5 MTV awards. Hancock helped to establish the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA and in 2019 it was renamed the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance.

Early Life

Herbert Jeffrey Hancock was born in Chicago in 1940. He began playing classical piano at age 7 and was soon identified as a child prodigy. When he was 11, Hancock played the first movement of a Mozart piano concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Hancock majored in Electrical Engineering and Music at Grinnell College in Iowa. After graduation he joined Donald Byrd's group and moved to New York City in 1961. Hancock recorded his first solo album with Blue Note that year which got the attention of Miles Davis. Davis asked Hancock to join his quintet in 1963.