McCoy Tyner, a famous jazz pianist, and longtime member of John Coltrane’s quartet died on March 6, according to his nephew Colby, who announced the news on Twitter. He wrote, “Sad to announce the passing of my uncle McCoy Tyner. One of the best jazz pianists ever, a Philly legend.” He was 81.
The family also released an official statement on Tyner’s passing. From McCoy Tyner’s twitter account they said: “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 art, his family and his spirituality. McCoy Tyner’s music and legacy will continue to inspire fans and future talent for generations to come.”
In closing, the statement added, “The Tyner family is grateful for your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time, and respectfully requests than any inquiries be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.” A cause of death was not immediately given.
Tyner was born on December 11, 1938, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While attending Sulzberger Jr. High school, his parents encouraged him to start taking piano lessons with their neighbor, Mr. Habershaw. Soon, Tyner continued his studies with a classical piano teacher, Mr. Beroni. However, it was when Tyner started jamming out with other musicians in his Philly neighborhood that he developed his true sound.
At some point, Tyner switched to study at West Philadelphia High School. Before he even graduated, in 1956, his piano skills caught the attention of the one Mr. John Coltrane, and his whole life changed.
1. Tyner Joined John Coltrane’s Quartet in 1960
In 2018, in an interview for Fox News’ “Jazz Stories“, the pianist was at Lincoln Center to honor Coltrane, who died at age 40, after being named as an Honorary Board member to the Friends of the John and Alice Coltrane Home. Tyner said, “I’m really glad and happy I knew somebody like him. He was a great genius at what he was doing.”
As for his own talent, Tyner gave credit to a higher power. “I think the almighty gave me strength and the talent to be able to get up before the public and help them see the light.”
The mutual love and respect between the two never faltered. Tyner said of Coltrane, “I never felt intimidated by John Coltrane because I knew his mother, his cousin Mary, and his family. He used to pat me on the back, “This is my little brother, here.”
2. McCoy Enjoyed A Long Solo Career After Leaving The John Coltrane Quartet in 1965
The legendary musician, whose style of playing was inspired by numerous different cultures, such as African, Latin, and Eastern rhythms. In addition to his own records, he’s credited for playing on over 80 albums throughout his career. According to NPR, Tyner left to dive into working as a composer and bandleader.
In 1967, he released the album, The Real McCoy, which featured his former “Quarter” bandmate Elvin Jones, as well as saxophonist Joe Henderson, bassist Ron Carter. McCoy followed that album with 1970’s Asante.
While collaborating with other musicians and artists fed Tyner’s musical soul, performing is was what kept the man growing and thriving throughout his storied career. For his 70th birthday, he celebrated by performing at the Blue Note and released a new album. At age 74, Tyner and his “magic fingers” continued to perform to live audiences.
3. Tyner Was A 5-Time Grammy Award Winner
In 1972, Tyner earned a Grammy nomination for 1972’s Sahara, but he didn’t start taking home hardware until 1988, winning Best Instrumental Jazz Performance by a Group or Individual for the album, Blues for Coltrane: A Tribute to John Coltrane.
In the 90s, Tyner continued to rack up the Grammys for 1992’s Turning Point, 1994’s Journey, and 1995’s Infinity. In 2004, Tyner earned his fifth Grammy, this time for Best Jazz Album, for Illuminations.
The decorated pianist continued to rack awards and honors in the early 200s. He was given the National Endowment of the Arts’ Jazz Master Award in 2002, the Philadelphia Chapter of the Recording Academy gave him their Heroes Award in 2003, and in 2005, Tyner was given an honorary doctorate from Boston’s elite Berklee College.
4. McCoy Tyner Once Was Married To Aisha Tyner
During his marriage to Aisha Tyner, they welcomed three sons, according to FM.com. In 1993, Tyner did an interview with the Los Angeles Times that described his marriage ending in the 1980s, and his kids were now grown-ups already.
5. Tributes to Tyner & His Legendary Career Flooded Twitter
Tyner has served as inspiration for so many artists, and his library of music so extensive, that he garnered a large following of fans throughout his historic career. After his family shared the news of his passing, fellow musicians and longtime listeners paid tribute to the exceptional pianist.
Blue Note Records simply tweeted, “We’ve lost a titan… RIP #McCoyTyner.”