Sun Ra, a controversial (if not THE most controversial) jazz musician, band leader, and avant-garde/free-jazz poineer, was born as Herman Poole Blount today in 1914.
Why controversial? Listen to this:
Of all the jazz musicians, Sun Ra was probably the most controversial," critic Scott Yanow said, because of Sun Ra's eclectic music and unorthodox lifestyle. Claiming that he was of the "Angel Race" and not from Earth, but from Saturn, Sun Ra developed a complex persona using "cosmic" philosophies and lyrical poetry that made him a pioneer of afrofuturism. He preached awareness and peace above all. He abandoned his birth name and took on the name and persona of Sun Ra (Ra being the Egyptian God of the Sun), and used several other names throughout his career, including Le Sonra and Sonny Lee. Sun Ra denied any connection with his birth name, saying "That's an imaginary person, never existed … Any name that I use other than Ra is a pseudonym.
Afrofuturism... cosmic philosophies.. it's all nuts.
But he was a pioneer of jazz; he started off in the 50's with a big band style but later in his career he turned into psychedelic "cosmic" music.
He was an eccentric character, but it's all about the music in the end. He passed away in 1993
So here's a track from the album "The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra, Vol. 2" (1965) If you're into that stuff, smoke a spliff before listening.