Sun Ra

Real Name:
Le Sony'r Ra né Herman Poole Blount
Profile:
American Free-Jazz composer, pianist and band leader.
Widely recognized as music innovator, pioneer of free improvisation and modal jazz, and early user of electronic keyboards and synthesizers.
Born as Herman Poole Blount, he legally changed his name into Le Sony'r Ra on October 20, 1952.

Born: May 22, 1914 in Birmingham, Alabama
Died: May 30, 1993 in Birmingham, Alabama

Born and raised in Alabama, Herman Blount, nicknamed “Sonny” by his family, proved to be a skilled pianist since a young age. He was able to sight-read and compose music by the age of 11 and performed semi-professionally as a solo pianist or member of local Jazz and R&B bands as a teenager. His first full-time musical job was proposed in 1934 by Ethel Harper, his biology teacher from high school, who had organized a band to pursue a career as a singer. When Ms. Harper moved to New York, he took the lead of the band, renaming it Sonny Blount Orchestra. The band disbanded shortly after, but Blount continued to work steadily as a musician in Birningham.
Between 1936 and 1937 he left college, which he attended for only one year, after a visionary experience which greatly influenced his life: during a deep meditation state, he claimed to have been transported to the planet Saturn by beings from outer space who entrusted him with the mission to preach peace through music, in a world that was going into chaos.
In the following years, Blount transformed the first floor of his family's house into a conservatory-workshop where musicians could come and go at any time and he could discuss religious and esoteric concepts with whoever was interested.

In 1945, he moved to Chicago where he was influenced by the African-American political activist fervor in the city. He soon abandoned his birth name, taking the name Le Sony'r Ra, shortened to Sun Ra (after Ra, the Egyptian god of the Sun).
Musically, he worked and performed for Wynonie Harris, Lil Green, Fletcher Henderson, Coleman Hawkins and Stuff Smith.
In 1952, Sun Ra ensembled and led a trio with the drummer  Tommy Hunter and saxophonist Pat Patrick, forming the first nucleus of what will shortly become The Sun Ra Arkestra.
When Patrick moved to Florida (he will continue to get in and out of the Arkestra for decades to come), saxophonists John Gilmore and Marshall Allen join the group. In the same years, Sun Ra met  Alton Abraham a precociously intelligent teenager that quickly became his closest friend and, practically, his business manager. Together, in the mid '50s, they founded the independent label called El Saturn Records, initially focused on 45 rpm singles by Sun Ra and artists related to him. However, Sun Ra's first album was released in 1957 by the producer Tom Wilson (2) with another independent label, Transition.
In the late 1950s, Sun Ra and his band began to wear outlandish, Egyptian-styled or science fiction-themed costumes and headdresses. This style, which can be defined in retrospect as “Afrofuturistic”, will become the trademark that will make the Arkestra recognizable even on stage.

In the Fall of 1961, the group moved to New York City where Sun Ra and his band members lived communally to save money.
In the mid '60s, the Arkestra used to perform regularly at Slug's Saloon. At this point, Sun Ra's popularity started to increase among followers of the beat generation and early psychedelia, also receiving much praise from music critics and major names of the New York jazz scene.

In 1968, when the New York building they were renting was put up for sale, Sun Ra and the Arkestra relocated to the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Hereafter, the Sun Ra house on Morton Street became the Arkestra's base of operations, until his death. That same year, they made their first tour of the US West Coast and, a few months later, Sun Ra was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, introducing him to the national public. In 1970, the Arkestra began to tour internationally with concerts in France, Germany and the United Kingdom .

For the next three decades, the band's touring and recording activity would not stop, becoming a point of reference for the musical avant-gardes.

Sun Ra kept composing, performing, and leading the Arkestra, even after he had a stroke in 1990. 
In late 1992, Sun Ra returned to his birth city of Birmingham to live with his older sister, Mary Jenkins, who (along with various Blount cousins) became his caretaker until his death, which occured on May 30, 1993.
Sites:
Aliases:
In Groups:
Variations:

Artist

Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions

Albums

trlp 10 Jazz By Sun Ra Vol. 1 — Sun Ra Sun Ra Jazz By Sun Ra Vol. 1 (Album) Transition trlp 10 US 1957 Sell This Version
Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions
MG-12169 The Futuristic Sounds Of Sun Ra — Sun Ra Sun Ra The Futuristic Sounds Of Sun Ra (Album) Savoy Records MG-12169 US 1962 Sell This Version
Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions
1014 The Heliocentric Worlds Of Sun Ra, Vol. I — Sun Ra Sun Ra The Heliocentric Worlds Of Sun Ra, Vol. I (Album) ESP Disk 1014 US 1965 Sell This Version
Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions
ESP-DISK´ 1045 Nothing Is... — Sun Ra Sun Ra Nothing Is... (Album) ESP Disk ESP-DISK´ 1045 US 1966 Sell This Version
Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions
1017 The Heliocentric Worlds Of Sun Ra, Volume 2 — Sun Ra Sun Ra The Heliocentric Worlds Of Sun Ra, Volume 2 (Album) ESP Disk 1017 US 1966 Sell This Version
Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions
LPB - 711 The Magic City — Sun Ra Sun Ra The Magic City (Album) Saturn Research LPB - 711 US 1966 Sell This Version
Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions
1968 A Black Mass — Sun Ra LeRoi Jones Musical Arrangement Le Sun Ra* LeRoi Jones Musical Arrangement Le Sun Ra* - A Black Mass (Album) Jihad Productions 1968 US 1968 Sell This Version
Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions
SHP-6204 Nuits De La Fondation Maeght Volume 2 — Sun Ra Sun Ra Nuits De La Fondation Maeght Volume 2 (Album) Shandar, Shandar, Shandar SHP-6204 Japan 1971 Sell This Version
Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions
SR 10 001, SR 10.001 Nuits De La Fondation Maeght Volume 1 — Sun Ra Sun Ra Nuits De La Fondation Maeght Volume 1 (Album) Shandar, Shandar SR 10 001, SR 10.001 France 1971 Sell This Version
Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions
BT 10.021 Space Is The Place — Sun Ra Sun Ra Space Is The Place (Album) Blue Thumb Records BT 10.021 France 1973 Sell This Version
Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions
40 540 Live In Paris At The Sun Ra Live In Paris At The "Gibus" (Album) Atlantic 40 540 France 1973 Sell This Version
Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions
485 Dreams Come True — Sun Ra Sun Ra Dreams Come True(LP, Album) Saturn Records (22) 485 US 1973 Sell This Version
Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions
A 8027-9255 Astro Black — Sun Ra Sun Ra Astro Black (Album) Impulse!, ABC Records, Saturn Research A 8027-9255 US 1973 Sell This Version
Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions
SR-509 Monorails And Satellites — Sun Ra Sun Ra Monorails And Satellites (Album) Saturn Research SR-509 US 1973 Sell This Version
Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions
8027-9239, 802 79239 Atlantis — Sun Ra Sun Ra Atlantis (Album) Impulse!, ABC Records, Impulse!, ABC Records 8027-9239, 802 79239 US 1973 Sell This Version
Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions
143000, 144000 The Outerspaceways Inc. / The Invisible Shield — Sun Ra Sun Ra The Outerspaceways Inc. / The Invisible Shield(LP, Album, Hyb) Saturn Research, Saturn Research 143000, 144000 US 1973 Sell This Version
Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions
ASD-9288 Planet Earth — Sun Ra Sun Ra And His Solar Arkestra* Planet Earth(LP, Album, TP) Impulse!, ABC Records, Inc. ASD-9288 1974 Sell This Version
Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions
AS-9242 The Nubians Of Plutonia — Sun Ra Sun Ra The Nubians Of Plutonia (Album) Impulse! AS-9242 US 1974 Sell This Version
Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions
ESR-9691, 519 Monorails And Satellites Volume II — Sun Ra Sun Ra Monorails And Satellites Volume II (Album) El Saturn Records, El Saturn Records ESR-9691, 519 US 1974 Sell This Version
Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions
AS-9271 Supersonic Jazz — Sun Ra Sun Ra Supersonic Jazz (Album) Impulse! AS-9271 US 1974 Sell This Version
Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions
81774 The Antique Blacks — Sun Ra Sun Ra The Antique Blacks (Album) El Saturn Records 81774 US 1974 Sell This Version
Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions
ASD 9295 Monorails and Satellites — Sun Ra Sun Ra Monorails and Satellites(LP, TP) ABC Records ASD 9295 US 1974 Sell This Version
Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions
COB 37001, COB 37.001 Cosmos — Sun Ra Sun Ra Cosmos (Album) Cobra, Cobra COB 37001, COB 37.001 France 1976 Sell This Version
Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions
IAI 37.38.50 Solo Piano - Volume 1 — Sun Ra Sun Ra Solo Piano - Volume 1 (Album) Improvising Artists Inc. IAI 37.38.50 US 1977 Sell This Version
Image Title Label Catalog Number Year In Your Collection, Wantlist, or Inventory Actions
771 The Soul Vibrations Of Man — Sun Ra Sun Ra The Soul Vibrations Of Man (Album) Saturn Research 771 US 1977 Sell This Version

Add Review

Plasnes

Plasnes

December 2, 2021
Discogs should have a separate category for live albums .
See 1 reply
lambcannon

lambcannon

May 25, 2021
During a concert at Ed Murphy's Supper Club (near Howard University) in 1973, as the band closed a set with their promenade around the audience, Sun Ra leaned from behind and whispered into my ear, "I hereby sentence you to 99 years in your own body"
See 2 replies
naosella

naosella

January 26, 2021
SUN RA spoke of amazing concepts, and explored them further in his music.
Peace ~ Nick.
2blankmc

2blankmc

October 21, 2020
edited over 2 years ago
only 3 comments below the greatest jazz musician ever... That alone is the proof that humans are the biggest joke in Universe
See 2 replies
jamesjazzy

jamesjazzy

August 26, 2020
Anyone interested in Sun Ra Should check out June/July 1975 issue of Coda magazine as there is a long article on Sun Ra followed by a separate long article on John Gilmore. They go over each album in depth.
ruderoy121

ruderoy121

September 28, 2019
Can there be another person like Sun Ra dead or alive, [EVER]. This artist was so unique who can you compare him to.
I would say he created his own industry and identity. I find him complex and hard to understand but some of his tracks are truly amazing, He should rated with the best.
When i watched Ken Burn's ''Jazz' I never saw/heard any mention of Sun RA what a disgrace.
See 2 replies

Videos (121)

Edit