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Died On This Date (May 30, 1993) Sun Ra / Acclaimed Jazz Innovator

Posted by themusicsover on May 30, 2010

Herman “Sun Ra” Blount
May 22, 1914 – May 30, 1993

Jazz innovator Herman Blount (aka Sun Ra)was born either in Birmingham, Alabama or on another planet, as he would like us to believe. Wherever he came from, his influence on contemporary music is as big as the persona he created. Hard Bop, Swing, Poet, Avant Garde, Big Band Leader, Philosopher, Pianist, Composer, Organist, Cosmic, Educator, Student, American, Extraterrestrial…are all words that make up Sun Ra. Much of Blount’s life remained a mystery for decades. What is known is that he was a skilled pianist in his early teens, and by his mid teens he was performing semi professionally. At twenty, he joined a touring group that he eventually took over and renamed the Sonny Blount Orchestra. Two years later the band was dissolved when he accepted a scholarship to Alabama A&M. It is said that while in college, Blount experienced some sort of mind altering event that would start him on the journey that would lead him to eventually become Sun Ra. He and his “Arkestra” stayed extremely active into the early ’90s, only slowing down when Blount suffered a stroke in 1990. Within a couple of years Sun Ra was too ill to go on so he moved back to Birmingham where he passed away while suffering from a bout of pneumonia. He was 79 (maybe!).  Sun Ra been credited for being a direct influence on the likes of Sonic Youth, New York Dolls, George Clinton, King Crimson, Phish, Frank Zappa, and many many more.

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