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Herbie Hancock

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Information about Herbie Hancock

Profile image of Herbie Hancock

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Pianist
Music Composer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Meatloaf
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Home
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
4/12/1940
Birth Location:
Chicago, Illinois

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Pianist
Music Composer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Meatloaf
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Home
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
4/12/1940
Birth Location:
Chicago
See how Herbie Hancock is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Pianist and composer Herbert Jeffrey "Herbie" Hancock was born on April 12, 1940 in Chicago, Illinois to Winnie Belle and Wayman Edward Hancock. Hancock began to study music at age seven, and performed a Mozart piano concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by age eleven. He played jazz in high school and double-majored in music and electrical engineering at Grinnell College.

In 1960, Hancock was discovered by trumpeter Donald Byrd. After two years of session work with Byrd, as well as Phil Woods and Oliver Nelson, he signed with Blue Note Records as a solo artist. Hancock’s 1963 debut album, Takin’ Off, was an immediate success, and produced the hit “Watermelon Man.” Subsequent albums on Blue Note included Maiden Voyage, Empyrean Isles, and Speak Like a Child, among others. In 1963, trumpeter Miles Davis invited Hancock to join the Miles Davis Quintet alongside Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams, where he stayed for five years. Hancock also composed the score to Michelangelo Antonioni's 1966 film Blow Up, which led to a successful career in feature film and television music.

After leaving the Davis Quintet, Hancock established his own sextet and recorded several albums, including 1971’s Mwandishi. He then formed a new band called The Headhunters and, in 1973, recorded Head Hunters for Columbia Records, which became the first jazz album to go platinum. Hancock produced eleven albums that were included in the pop charts during the 1970s. He also recorded and performed with the group V.S.O.P. in the late 1970s, toured with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis in 1980, and then collaborated with producer Bill Laswell in the mid-1980s. Hancock later moved to the Verve record label and formed a band to record 1996's The New Standard. He then released 1 1 with Wayne Shorter in 1997. Hancock reunited with The Headhunters in 1998 and, that same year, collaborated with a number of artists on his multiple Grammy Award-winning album Gershwin's World. His albums in the 2000s included Future2Future, Directions In Music: Live at Massey Hall, Possibilities, The Imagine Project, and River: The Joni Letters, which won him the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 2008.

Hancock has been named by the Los Angeles Philharmonic as Creative Chair For Jazz. He also serves as Institute Chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, and as the 2014 Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University. In addition, he is a founder of The International Committee of Artists for Peace, and was designated an honorary UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in 2011.

In all, Hancock has released over forty albums and received fourteen Grammy Awards. He also received an Oscar Award for composing the score to 1986’s Round Midnight. His other honors include a Soul Train Music Award, a U.S. Radio Award, and multiple BMI Film Music Awards and MTV Video Awards. He was also awarded the “Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres” by French Prime Minister Francois Fillon.

Herbie Hancock was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 13, 2014.

See how Herbie Hancock is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Herbie Hancock's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Herbie Hancock lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Herbie Hancock describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Herbie Hancock talks about how his parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Herbie Hancock lists his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Herbie Hancock describes his sister's career
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Herbie Hancock talks about his father's education and profession
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Herbie Hancock remembers his mother's mental illness
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Herbie Hancock describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Herbie Hancock remembers his neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Herbie Hancock describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Herbie Hancock recalls the music of his youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Herbie Hancock describes the Regal Theater and Metropolitan Theatre in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Herbie Hancock remembers his first piano
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Herbie Hancock describes his early piano teachers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Herbie Hancock recalls his experiences with sports
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Herbie Hancock recalls winning the Young People's Concerts contest
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Herbie Hancock remembers performing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at eleven years old
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Herbie Hancock shares a story from his travels in Africa
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Herbie Hancock recalls learning a new piece for his performance with Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Herbie Hancock remembers organizing a jazz concert at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Herbie Hancock describes the racial demographics of Hyde Park High School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Herbie Hancock describes his introduction to jazz
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Herbie Hancock recalls listening to George Shearing
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Herbie Hancock talks about his early exposure to jazz music
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Herbie Hancock recalls his decision to attend Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Herbie Hancock remembers his classmates at Grinnell College
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Herbie Hancock talks about attending Jack and Jill of America, Inc. events
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Herbie Hancock recalls his academic achievements
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Herbie Hancock describes his experiences at Grinnell College
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Herbie Hancock recalls majoring in engineering at Grinnell College
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Herbie Hancock describes the music department at Grinnell College
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Herbie Hancock remembers his summer job at the post office
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Herbie Hancock recalls balancing his music career with his work at the post office
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Herbie Hancock remembers the jazz musicians at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Herbie Hancock recalls his first performance with Donald Byrd and Pepper Adams
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Herbie Hancock remembers joining Donald Byrd's band
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Herbie Hancock recalls living as a struggling jazz musician in New York City
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Herbie Hancock remembers moving in with Donald Byrd
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Herbie Hancock talks about the mentorship of Donald Byrd
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Herbie Hancock recalls finding the courage to write his own compositions
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Herbie Hancock talks about the start of his music writing career
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Herbie Hancock recalls being approached by Miles Davis
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Herbie Hancock remembers buying his first sports car, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Herbie Hancock remembers buying his first sports car, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Herbie Hancock describes his early performances in New York City
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Herbie Hancock describes the process of composing 'Watermelon Man'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Herbie Hancock remembers performing with Mongo Santamaria
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Herbie Hancock describes his early understanding of the music industry
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Herbie Hancock talks about developing his craft with other pianists from Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Herbie Hancock recalls meeting Tony Williams
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Herbie Hancock remembers auditioning for Miles Davis
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Herbie Hancock talks about the formation of Miles Davis' Second Great Quintet
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Herbie Hancock recalls developing the post-bop style of jazz with Miles Davis
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Herbie Hancock remembers recording 'Live at the Plugged Nickel 1965'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Herbie Hancock describes the Second Great Quintet's improvisational style
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Herbie Hancock talks about the lack of a bandleader in the Second Great Quintet
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Herbie Hancock recalls lessons from his time with Miles Davis
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Herbie Hancock reflects upon his career with Miles Davis