Sun Ra (May 22, 1914 – May 30, 1993)
Sun Ra came from the planet Saturn and landed in Birmingham, Alabama, where, by the age of eleven, he was already demonstrating his prodigious skills as a pianist and composer. In Birmingham he also encountered Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller and other musical greats who came to the city on tour. They influenced his musical development, while he influenced a generation of musicians who emerged during the swing and bebop eras. Sun Ra’s massive contributions to jazz include pioneering the use of the electric piano, the Moog synthesizer, and the electric bass. He also recorded over 200 albums, some of which were released on his own independent label.
In honor of Sonny’s Earth-day (the actual date of which remained a mystery throughout most of his life) I’ve posted below “Space is the Place,” a full-length film that features the music and cosmology of Sun Ra and his Arkestra. Upon its release it became an instant cult classic to legions of his fans across the globe.
Sun Ra Quotes:
“My name’s always been Sun, my mama called me son.”
“I’m not a prophet. I’m a destiny-changer. It’s all right to prophesy, but the best thing to do is change things, if you’ve got the power.”
“If death is the absence of life, then death’s death is life.”
“Space is not only high, it’s low. It’s a bottomless pit.”
“I’m sittin in front of the White House, and I’m lookin across the street,
and I don’t see the Black House.”
“What I’m dealing with is so vast and so great that it can’t be called the truth. It’s above the truth.”
“I’m playing dark history. It’s beyond black. I’m dealing with the dark things of the cosmos.”
“It’s AFTER the end of the world. Don’t you know that yet?”
Here’s a link to the Wiki page for Sun Ra.
And check out this article by Mike Welsh for more information about the genius known as Sun Ra.