About Herbie Hancock
A virtuoso classical, jazz, and R&B pianist in his teens, Herbie Hancock studied electrical engineering in college, which proved to be a major influence on his music.
∙ His 1962 debut, Takin’ Off, included “Watermelon Man”—a future jazz standard and his signature song—and was the first album in Blue Note Records’ history composed entirely by one artist.
∙ Miles Davis enlisted the then-22-year-old Hancock in 1963 for his Second Great Quintet, considered by many to be the best and most important group in jazz history.
∙ He has scored many films and TV shows, including Blow Up, ’Round Midnight, and the theme song to the Fat Albert series.
∙ While it angered and confused some jazz critics at the time, Hancock’s funk classic, Headhunters, became the first Platinum-selling jazz album.
∙ The No. 1 single, “Rockit,” featuring Grand Mixer DXT, marked the first time “scratching” was heard on a hit record—inspiring a generation of hip-hop DJs, producers, and break-dancers.
∙ In 2008, River: The Joni Letters—his tribute to Joni Mitchell—became the second jazz album in history to win Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards.
∙ Dee-Lite’s “Groove Is in the Heart” and US3’s “Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)” are the biggest hits built on Hancock samples, but hundreds of artists have used his grooves, from 2Pac to Thundercat.
∙ A 14-time Grammy Award winner, he has also won an Oscar, is a Kennedy Center Honor recipient, and a United Nations cultural ambassador.
∙ He has served as chairman of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz and as a professor at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.
BORNApril 12, 1940