Larry Coryell

Larry Coryell

Electric Guitar icon Electric Guitar

Age Icon

February 19, 2017 (Age 73) died

Birthday Icon

April 2, 1943 Birthday

Birthplace Icon

Galveston, Texas, U.S. Birthplace

Social Icon


Shows Icon



Larry Coryell was a guitarist and jazz-rock pioneer, who recorded over 60 albums as a leader and contributed to dozens more as a sideman. He collaborated with numerous jazz legends such as Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Chico Hamilton, Gary Burton, and Chet Baker, as well as other guitar greats like John McLaughlin, Paco de Lucía, and Emily Remler. Coryell began his career in New York in the mid-1960s, where he first gained attention for his work with Chico Hamilton's band. In 1966, he co-founded the short-lived proto-jazz-rock group "the Free Spirits," and further built his reputation playing with Gary Burton's combo. In the 1970s, he formed a band called "Foreplay," which eventually evolved into the jazz-rock group "Eleventh House." For the next several decades Coryell explored other modes of music, playing the acoustic guitar, working in guitar duos and trios, playing straight-ahead and Brazilian jazz, all while battling drug addiction, which he eventually overcame. He remained active, recording and performing until his death in 2017 at the age of 73.


Larry Coryell was known as the Godfather of Fusion. Both of Larry Coryell's sons, Murali and Julian, are professional guitarists. Larry Coryell's songs have been sampled by a variety of hip-hop groups and rappers including Jurassic 5, Biz Markie, Dr. Octagon, and Aceyalone.

Early Life

Born in Galveston, Texas in 1943 but raised in Richland, Washington, Larry Coryell discovered his love for music at an early age, starting with piano at age 4 and later transitioning to guitar in his early teens. He was particularly inspired by the music of Wes Montgomery, studying it intensively, but at the same time he also played with several of rock and R&B bands including the Jailers, the Rumblers, and the Checkers. Coryell studied journalism at the University of Washington before realizing that music was his calling and moving to New York City to study classical guitar at the Mannes School of Music in 1965. He quickly made a name for himself in the Greenwich Village jazz scene, ultimately landing a spot in Chico Hamilton's band, replacing Gabor Szabo later that same year.