(CelebrityAccess) — Chick Corea, an influential jazz pianist who performed with the likes of Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis, and who helped to shape the sound of modern jazz, died on February 9th. He was 79.
His passing was confirmed by a post on his website which said he died from a rare form of cancer which was only recently detected.
In a farewell message to his fans, Corea said: “I want to thank all of those along my journey who have helped keep the music fires burning bright. It is my hope that those who have an inkling to play, write, perform or otherwise, do so. If not for yourself then for the rest of us. It’s not only that the world needs more artists, it’s also just a lot of fun.”
“And to my amazing musician friends who have been like family to me as long as I’ve known you: It has been a blessing and an honor learning from and playing with all of you. My mission has always been to bring the joy of creating anywhere I could, and to have done so with all the artists that I admire so dearly—this has been the richness of my life.”
Over the course of his storied career, Corea amassed an astonishing collection of 23 Grammy Awards after he was nominated for the prestigious award more than 60 times and performed on landmark albums such as Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew,” and “In A Silent Way.”
Born in Chelsea, Massachusetts to a musical family – his father was a jazz trumpeter who led a Dixieland band in Boston in the 1930s and 1940s – Corea developed an affinity for jazz at an early age with influences that included Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Horace Young.
Corea started performing professionally when he was still a teenager, and attended both Columbia University and Julliard before leaving school to pursue a career as a professional musician.
He began his professional career in the early 1960s, playing with jazz greats such as Mongo Santamaria, Herbie Mann, and Stan Getz and released his debut solo album “Tones for Joan’s Bones” in 1966.
Corea developed a technique for the electric organ that helped him to land a role in Miles Davis’ group, appearing on multiple albums, including Black Beauty: Live at the Fillmore West and Miles Davis at Fillmore: Live at the Fillmore East, and touring with the group until 1970.
Following his tenure with Davis, Corea launched projects such as Circle and Return to Forever, which borrowed Latin American music styles and helped to found the jazz fusion movement.
Corea’s other bands include the Chick Corea Elektric Band, which was mirroed by a trio called “Akoustic Band,” and the the Chick Corea New Trio, which featured bassist Avishai Cohen and drummer Jeff Ballard.
In 2016, Corea marked his 75th birthday by performing with more than 20 different groups during a six week residency at New York’s famed Blue Note Jazz Club.
While best known as a jazz legend, Corea was also an adherant of L. Ron Hubbard’s dubious self-help group Scientology and became a practicing member of the group in the early 1970s. His interest in Scientiology Corea professionally and he was excluded from a concert during the 1993 World Championships in Athletics in Stuttgart, Germany due to his participation in the group.
Corea married vocalist/pianist Gayle Moran in 1972.
Last year, he released the double album “Plays,” which featured historical performances from a variety of concert venues.
“Like a runner loves to run because it just feels good, I like to play the piano just because it feels good,” he told The Associated Press when the album was released. “I can just switch gears and go to another direction or go to another song or whatever I want to do. So it’s a constant experiment.”