McCoy Tyner, 81, Legendary Jazz Pianist, Dies

World-renowned jazz pianist McCoy Tyner, a longtime member of the John Coltrane Quartet, died Friday, March 6 at his northern New Jersey home. He was 81.

“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of jazz legend, Alfred ‘McCoy’ Tyner,” his family said in a statement. “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.”

Born Alfred McCoy Tyner in Philadelphia on Dec. 11, 1938, he began taking piano lessons at age 13 and grew up around other local legends including organist Jimmy Smith, trumpeter Lee Morgan and pianist Bud Powell.

At age 16, he started playing professionally and eventually formed a friendship with Coltrane, joining his famed quartet in 1960 and playing on the 1961 album “My Favorite Things,” a major commercial success that highlighted the remarkable chemistry of the John Coltrane Quartet.

The album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.

Tyner, a five-time Grammy winner who was widely imitated, was committed to acoustic instrumentation and was one of the most recognizable and influential pianists in jazz history.

As a jazz master, Tyner was part of some of jazz’s most iconic works, including “A Love Supreme” and “Live at the Village Vanguard.”

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