John Coltrane may not be in the rock format. In fact, he may have not performed it when it was primarily called rock ‘n’ roll. But like Miles Davis, Coltrane has been a significant influence not only in rock music, not only in jazz, but in music in general. After his untimely death at age forty in 1967, he would have a profound influence on countless artists, from the artists of post-1960s jazz like Herbie Hancock and Weather Report, to rock artists like Santana, Joni Mitchell, and Steely Dan.
Coltrane’s career began as a member for the bands of Davis and Thelonious Monk, which resulted in session appearances in albums including Davis’s Kind of Blue and Milestones, and Monk’s live album at Carnegie Hall. But it wasn’t until the 1960s, that Coltrane struck out on his own, and begins his experiments with jazz that would include genres “hard bop” and “Avant-garde jazz”. Two of those albums that would come from that period would be ranked in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of all Time. The first one released was 1960’s Giant Steps (number 103), credited for it’s jazz improvisations. Then five years later, came the 1965 landmark A Love Supreme (number 47), which has been regarded as one of the greatest and acclaimed albums of all time, and was even referenced in a song by U2.
Coltrane’s honors have also grown with his influence. He was inducted in various halls of fame including Down Beat Magazine’s Jazz Hall of Fame and the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. He is also the recipient of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and for his “masterful improvisation and supreme musicianship”, a special Pulitzer Prize. With Davis already in, it perhaps will not be long before Coltrane could be the next jazz artist to be included.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: John Coltrane, eligible since 1986.