This Day in Black History: April 12, 1940

Herbie Hancock

This Day in Black History: April 12, 1940

Jazz Pianist Herbie Hancock was born on April 12, 1940.

Published April 12th

Award-winning jazz pianist and composer Herbie Hancock was born on April 12, 1940, in Chicago, Illinois. 

Throughout his sterling career, the renowned musician worked with jazz icons, such as Donald Byrd and Miles Davis, while also developing his own stylistically diverse discography. He was one of the first jazz musicians to incorporate synthesizers and funk music into his work, attracting much cross-over success.

At 7, Hancock began studying the piano. By his early teen years, the child prodigy had mastered Mozart, which he performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. His passion for jazz composition emerged during his high school years and blossomed while he attended Grinnell College in 1956. Despite his deep interest in technology, Hancock switched his major from electrical engineering to music composition and formed his own group. 

Over the following decades, the pianist went on to cement his place in music history, starting with his role in Miles Davis' Second Great Quintet. The group's work helped to redefine the role of a jazz rhythm section. 

As for Hancock's solo work, his 2007 tribute album, River: The Joni Letters, won the 2008 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. He has also won 13 additional Grammy Awards, 5 MTV Video Awards and an Academy Award for the Round Midnight soundtrack.

BET National News - Keep up to date with breaking news stories from around the nation, including headlines from the hip hop and entertainment world. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter. 

Get ready for the BET Experience, featuring Mary J. Blige, Maxwell, Jill Scott, A$AP Rocky, Rick Rossand many more. Click here for more details and info on how to purchase tickets.

(Photo: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Written by Patrice Peck


Latest in news

Inauguration Day

January 20, 2021