Legendary jazz musician and pianist, McCoy Tyner, died Friday at the age of 81. The renowned musician was a key figure in John Coltrane‘s jazz quartet. Tyner’s death was announced on Facebook, but a cause of death was not disclosed.
“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of jazz legend, Alfred ‘McCoy’ Tyner. McCoy was an inspired musician who devoted his life to his art, his family and his spirituality. McCoy Tyner’s music and legacy will continue to inspire fans and future talent for generations to come. The Tyner family is grateful for your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” the post said.
The family also redirected questions regarding the musician’s passing to email@example.com.
Tyner was born in Philadelphia on Dec. 11, 1938 and showed his love for music from childhood. In fact, his mother encouraged him to delve into his musical interests through formal training, according to The New York Times. Tyner’s mother, who was a beautician, bought him his very first piano and set it up in her beauty shop.
Tyner, whose studies of piano intensified after encountering his neighbor Bud Powell, who also played the instrument.
The legendary musician began taking music theory lessons at the Granoff School of Music, and by age 16, he was playing the piano professionally at house parties in Philadelphia and Atlantic City, according to the report.
In 1957, Tyner met John Coltrane at a club in Philadelphia called the Red Rooster. At the time, Tyner was in a band led by trumpeter Cal Massey. Coltrane, who also grew up in Philadelphia, had left the city in 1955 to join Miles Davis’ quintet. However, he was in town between tenures with the band.
Tyner waited for Coltrane to leave Miles Davis’ group to start their own band, saxophonist Benny Golson invited Tyner to join and trumpeter Art Farmer to form the Jazztet. Years later, in 1960, Tyner joined Coltrane and made the album, My Favorite Things.
From there, Tyner and Coltrane birthed one of the most groundbreaking groups in jazz history, The John Coltrane Quartet, which included drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Jimmy Garrison. The quartet created hit albums such as “A Love Supreme,” “Crescent,” “Coltrane Live at Birdland,” “Ballads” and “Impressions.”
Tyner left the group in 1965 when Coltrane began to explore with the quartet’s sound and include horns and percussionists. Following Coltrane’s passing in 1967, Tyner signed Blue Note, with whom he stayed with for five years.
Tyner was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master in 2002, which is one of the highest honors for a jazz musician in the United States, according to The New York Times.