Chick Corea, one of the greatest jazz pianists and composers of his generation, has died at the age of 79.
In a post on the artist’s official Facebook page that shocked the music world, it was announced that Corea died of a rare form of cancer that “was only discovered very recently.”
Winner of 23 Grammy Awards, Corea was a pioneer of jazz fusion and is widely considered to be one of the most influential and highly respected musicians of his generation.
Along with Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett, Corea is frequently ranked as one of the most important pianists since Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner. He composed several jazz standards, including Spain, La Fiesta and Windows.
Shortly before his death, Corea left a parting message for friends, fans and colleagues:
“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,” he said. “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.”
Born on June 12, 1941, in Chelsea, Mass., Corea began his professional career in the early 1960s with Mongo Santamaria, Willie Bobo, Blue Mitchell, Herbie Mann and Stan Getz. In 1966, he released his debut album, Tones for Joan’s Bones.
In the later part of that decade, Corea became an integral part of Miles Davis’s band after replacing Herbie Hancock. He recorded 15 albums with Davis between 1968 and 1974, including the landmark recordings In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew.
In 1971, Corea formed Return to Forever. Blending elements of jazz, rock, funk and Latin music, the group had a key role in the development of jazz fusion.
Corea worked on numerous other projects, including collaborations with Hancock, Dave Holland, Bobby McFerrin, Gary Burton, John Patitucci, Jack DeJohnette, Christian McBride, Steve Gadd and many more. His work expanded beyond the scope of jazz, as he was also well known for recording and performing classical and Latin music, equally comfortable as a soloist as he was as a bandleader.
Corea recorded a total of 81 studio albums and 17 live records and remained active until his final years. His last album was the solo piano album Plays, released in 2020.
Corea holds the record for the most Grammy Awards in the show’s jazz categories. He’s nominated twice at this year’s Grammys: best improvised jazz solo for All Blues and best jazz instrumental album for Trilogy 2.