Jazz pianist Alice Coltrane died five years ago today. If the last name sounds familiar, it's no coincidence: she was married to legendary saxophonist John Coltrane for two years until his 1967 death.
Alice Coltrane (Wikimedia Commons/Meylan, France)
Alice met John while playing in Terry Gibbs's band in the early 1960s. Within a couple years, the two were married, and soon after that, in early 1966, Alice replaced McCoy Tyner as pianist for John's band. It was a short-lived partnership – John died just a year and a half after Alice joined the band – but a musically fruitful one.
Together the couple had three children (John was also stepfather to Alice’s daughter Michele), and is it surprising that all three are musicians? John Jr. was a drummer before his death in 1982, and both Oranyan and Ravi have followed in their saxman father's footsteps.
Alice Coltrane outlived her husband by almost 40 years and, in addition to raising their musically-inclined children, continued her musical career and spiritual development. As a bandleader, she released 23 albums, many of which reflected her deepening spirituality as a devotee of Indian guru Sathya Sai Baba. Many, though, included previously-recorded collaborations with John and songs written by him. Though their union was short, they were able to make a lot of beautiful music together.
Written by Linnea Crowther