Though he was active before 1955, his prime years were between 1955 and 1967, during which time he reshaped modern jazz and influenced successive generations of other musicians. Coltrane's recording rate was astonishingly prolific, such that many albums did not appear until years after they were recorded.
He is regarded as one of the most important and influential jazz musicians, and one of the greatest musicians of the twentieth century. Along with tenor saxophonists Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, and Sonny Rollins, Coltrane fundamentally altered expectations for the instrument.
Born in Hamlet, North Carolina, Coltrane grew up in High Point in an era of racial segregation. During his seventh-grade school year, Coltrane experienced three deaths in his close-knit family; he lost his aunt, his grandfather, and his father. Coltrane began playing music and practicing obsessively at about this time.
His early life was influenced by a traditional Southern upbringing; the heavy emphasis on religion especially affected his later musical career. Coltrane began playing clarinet early on, but became interested in jazz and soon switched to alto saxophone. Coltran...