John William Coltrane was born in Hamlet, North Carolina on September 23, 1926 and spent his childhood and teen years in High Point, North Carolina. His father played ukulele and violin, his mother played piano in the church, and both parents sang. The family lived with John's grandfather, a prominent minister in the community. Consequently, John grew up in an atmosphere of music and spirituality.
After the death of his father and grandfather in 1939, John's mother moved to Philadelphia. He joined her after graduating from high school in 1944. John then spent a couple of years in the Navy, returned to Philadelphia in 1947, and began to work with "rhythm and blues" and jazz bands in the area. During this time, he toured with groups led by Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Big Maybelle, and King Kolax. His first recording was with Dizzy Gillespie in 1949. John worked with various bands over the next five or six years, including those led by Johnny Hodges and Earl Bostic. In 1955, Coltrane began playing regularly with Miles Davis. In 1957, after some bouts with drugs and alcohol, John had an experience that he described as follows:
"I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life, In gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music."
From this time on, John set the course from which he would not deviate for the rest of his life. He spent time with Thelonious Monk in 1957, then returned to perform with Miles Davis for the next couple of years. In 1960, he formed a quartet featuring Jimmy Garrison, Elvin Jones, and McCoy Tyner and began recording and performing throughout the country. His sound became famous worldwide and his music advanced into extended improvisations of high energy and intensity, and took on an increased spiritual significance.
In 1964, John recorded the album, "A Love Supreme" which was very spiritually oriented. His music became increasingly religious in nature, focusing on spiritual concepts of life from Africa and Asia as well as western Christianity.
For the remainder of his life, John continued to manifest musical creativity through the saxophones with a clear focus on religious and spiritual messages. Writing compositions such as "Prayer and Affirmation," "Om," "Meditations," "Compassion," and "Dear Lord," John clearly lit the path for others to follow.
On July 17, 1967, John Coltrane died, but his musical heritage continues to live on. He is an example of the love, strength, and spirituality that exists within African-American culture and all humanity. His influence on musicians, regardless of instrument, spans generations and will continue to do so in times to come.
Biography by Leonard Brown
Coltrane. Original Jazz Classics. OJC 020 CD, 1957.
Blue Train. Blue Note. CDP 46095 CD, 1957.
Standard Train. Original Jazz Classics. OJC 246 CD, 1958.
Blue train: John Coltrane Plays the Blue. Prestige. PRCD 11005 CD, 1957-8.
The Complete Africa/Brass. Impulse! IMPD 2-168 CD, 1961.
The Complete Paris Concerts. Magnetic. MRCD 8114 CD, 1961.
The Complete Copenhagen Concert. Magnetic. MRCD 116 CD, 1961.
Live In Stockholm, 1961. Charly CD. 117 CD, 1961.
Coltrane. Impulse! IMPD 215 CD, 1962.
From The Original Master Tapes. Impulse! MCAD 5541 CD, 1961-2.
Live at Birdland. Charly CD. 68 CD, 1962.
The Complete Graz Concert vol 1. Magnetic. MRCD 8104 CD, 1962.
The Complete Graz Concert vol 2. Magnetic. MRCD 8105 CD, 1962.
The Complete Stockholm Concert vol 1. Magnetic. MRCD 8108 CD, 1962.
The Complete Stockholm Concert vol 2. Magnetic. MRCD 8109 CD, 1962.
Stockholm '62 The Complete Second Concert vol 1. Magnetic. MRCD 127 CD,1962.
Stockholm '62 The Complete Second Concert vol 2. Magnetic. MRCD 128 CD,1962.
Visit To Scandinavia. Jazz Door. JD 1210 CD, 1962.
Promise. Moon. MCD 058 CD, 1962.
Coltrane Live at Birdland. Impulse! MCAD 33109 CD, 1963.
'63 The Complete Copenhagen Concert vol 1. Magnetic. MRCD 137 CD,1963.
'63 The Complete Copenhagen Concert vol 2. Magnetic. MRCD�138 CD, 1963.
Live at Stockholm, 1963. Charly CD. 33 CD, 1963.
The John Coltrane Quartet Plays. Impulse! IMPD 214 CD, 1965.
Live In Antibes.-1965. French Radio Classics Concerts. 119 CD, 1965.
Live At Antibes-1965. LeJazz. 10 CD, 1965.
Love in Paris. LeJazz. 031 CD, 1965.
A Love Supreme: Live in Concert. Black Label. 8022 CD, 1965.
Live in Paris. Black Label. 8023 CD, 1965.
New York City '65 vol 1. Magnetic. MRCD. 134 CD, 1965.
New York City '65 vol 2. Magnetic. MRCD 135 CD, 1965.
First Meditations. Impulse! GRD 118 CD, 1965.
Live at Village Vanguard Again! Impulse! IMPD 213 CD, 1966.
A John Coltrane Restrospective. Impulse! GRP 31192 CD, 1961-67
Soultrane. Prestige. OJCCD-021-2, 1957.
Giant Steps. Atlantic. 1311-2, 1960.
My Favorite Things. Atlantic. 1361-2, 1960.
Coltrane's Sound. Atlantic. 1419-2, 1960.
"Live" at the Village Vanguard. Impulse! MCAD-39136, 1961.
John Coltrane Meets Eric Dophy. Moon. MCD069, 1963.
John Coltrane Quintet with Eric Dolphy. Black Label. BLCD8018,1962.
Newport `63. Impulse! GRD-128, 1961.
Afro Blue Impressions. Pablo. VICJ-40040,1963.
Africa/Brass. Impulse! MCAD-42001, 1961.
John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman. Impulse! GRD-157, 1963.
Crescent. Impulse! IMPD-200, 1964.
A Love Supreme. Impulse! MCAD-5660, 1964.
Transition. Impulse! GRD-124, 1965.
New Thing at Newport (with Archie Schepp). Impulse! GRD-105, 1965.
Sun Ship. Impulse! IMPD-1967.
Live in Seattle. Impulse! GRD-2-146, 1965.
Major Works of John Coltrane. Impulse! GRD-2-113, 1965.
Meditations. Impulse! MCAD-39139, 1965.
Interstellar Space. Impulse! GRD-110, 1967.
Expression. Impulse! GRD-131, 1967.
Stellar Regions. Impulse! IMPD-169, 1967.
Coltrane. Impulse! MCAD-5883, 1962.
The Believer. Fantasy. JCCD-876-2, 1958.
The Avant-Garde. Atlantic. 90041-2, 1960.
Dear Old Stockholm. GRP/Impulse! 120, 1965.
Lush Life. Fantasy. OJCCD-131-2, 1958.
Om. Impulse! MCA-39118, 1965.
Coltrane's Sound. Atlantic. 1419-2, 1960.
Live at Birdland and Half Note. Cool 'N' Blue. CBCD-9101, 1963.
Bahia. Fantasy. OJC-4115, 1958.
A Love Supreme in Concert. Recording Arts. 317, 1965.
The Paris Concert. Orginal Jazz Classics. OJC 781 CD, 1963.
The Bethlehem Years. Bethlehem. 2-BCM-5001, 1957.
Ole' Coltrane. Atlantic. 1373, 1961.
Impressions. Impulse! MCAD-5887, 1963.
Coltrane Plays the Blues. Atlantic. 1382, 1960.
Coltrane Jazz. Atlantic. 1354-2, 1960.
The Stardust Session. Prestige. PRCD-24056-2, 1958.
Tenor Conclave. Fantasy. PRCD-23089, 1956.
Ballads. Impulse! GRD. 156 CD, 1962.
Black Pearls. Fantasy. OJCCD-352-2, 1958.
Bye Bye Blackbird. Fantasy. OJCCD-681-2, 1962.
Coast to Coast. Moon/FTC. MCD-8535, Live 1964-65.
The Coltrane Legacy. Atlantic. 1553-4, 1959-60.
Coltrane Time. Blue Note. B21Y-84461, 1958.
Dakar. Fantasy/Original Jazz Classics. OJCCD-393-2, 1957.
European Impressions. Bandstand. BDCD-1514, Live 1961.
The European Tour. Pablo. 2308-222.
Ev'rytime We Say Goodbye; Live in Austria. Natasha Imports. NI4003CD,1962.
Interplay for 2 Trumpets & 2 Tenors. Fantasy/Original Jazz Classics. OJC-292 1957.
John Coltrane Quartet Plays.........MCA/Ipulse! MCAD-33110, 1965.
John Coltrane with Garland. Prestige. P-24003-4, 1957-58.
The Cats. Fantasy/Original Jazz Classics. OJCCD-079-2, 1957.
The Last Trane. Fantasy/Original Jazz Classics. OJC-394, 1958.
Like Sonny. Blue Note. 221Y0-93901, 1960.
A Live Supreme. Moon/FTC. MCD-8542, 1965.
On Stage 1962. Accord. ACD-556632, 1962.
Settin' the Pace. Fantasy/Original Jazz Classics. OJCCD-781-2, 1958.
Traneing In. Fantasy/Original Jazz Classics. OJC-189, 1957.
The New Wave in Jazz. GRP/Impulse! GRD-124, 1965.
Wheelin' and Dealin'. Fantasy/Original Jazz Classics. OJCCD-672-2,1957.
Cattin' with Coltrane & Quinichette. Fantasy/Original Jazz Classics. OJCCD-460-2, 1957.
The Prestige Recordings. Prestige. 4405 CD, 1956-58.
The Art of John Coltrane. Blue Note. 99175 CD, 1956-58.
John Coltrane and the Jazz Giants. Prestige. 60104 CD, 1956-58.
The Jazz Giant. Rhino. RHI 71255 CD, 1949-60.
Cosmic Music. Impulse! AS-9148 CD, 1972.
The Master: John Coltrane. Prestige. PR7825, 1970.
The Best of John Coltrane...his greatest years, vol.2. Impulse! AS-9223-2 1972.
Kofsky, Frank. Black Nationalism and the Revultion in Music. Pathfinder Press, 1970, 1991.
Simpkins, C.O. Coltrane: A Musical Biography. Black Classic, 1975.
Thomas, J.C. Chasin' The Trane: The Music and Mystique of John Coltrane. Da Capo Press, Inc., 1975.
Cole, Bill. John Coltrane. Da Capo Press, Inc., 1993.
Nisenson, Eric. Ascension: John Coltrane and his quest. St. Martin's Press, 1993.
Fraim, John. Spirit Catcher- The Life and Art of John Coltrane. Greathouse, 1996.
Fujioka, Yasuhiro. John Coltrane: A Discography and Musical Biography. Scarecrow Press, 1995.
Alkyer, Frank, ed. Down Beat: 60 Years of Jazz. Winona,MN: Hal Leonard, 1995.
Budds, Michael J. Jazz in the Sixities: The Expansion of Musical Resources and Techniques. Iowa City: U of Iowa Press, 1990.
Burkhart, Charles. Anthology for Musical Analysis. 5th ed. Forth Worth, TX.: Harcourt Brace, 1994.
Gridley, Mark C. Jazz Styles: History and Analysis. 5th ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ.: Prentice Hall, 1994.
Hardy, Phil & Laind, Dave. The Faber Companion to 20th-Century Popular Music. London: Faber and Faber, 1990.
Jost, Ekkehard. Free Jazz. New York: Da Capo, 1994.
McDonald, Michael Bruce. Training the Ninities, Or the Present Relevance of John Coltrane's Music of Theophany and Negation. African American Review 29.2. 1995. pp. 275-282
Lewis Porter. John Coltrane His Life and Music. Univ. of Michigan Press.
The World According to John Coltrane 59 mins. BMG Video.
The Coltrane Legaacy 61 mins. VAI Video.
The Church of Saint Coltrane 26 mins.