Sonny Rollins

Born Sep 7, 1930

Theodore Walter "Sonny" Rollins is an American jazz tenor saxophonist. Rollins is widely recognized as one of the most important and influential jazz musicians. A number of his compositions, including "St. Thomas", "Oleo", "Doxy", and "Airegin", have become jazz standards.… Read More

related links

News + Updates

Browse recent news and stories about Sonny Rollins.

  • Jazz Legend Sonny Rollins Revisits Past Performances With 'holding The Stage'
    NPR - Apr 28, 2016
  • S american cool mini
    The House Sinatra Lived In
    Huffington Post - Dec 12, 2015
  • S michael blake jazz mini
    Michael Blake's World Time Zone Premiers Contrasts In Individualism At The Kitano
    Huffington Post - Jan 21, 2014
  • S us uk ca mini
    Dog Ears Music: Born In January
    Huffington Post - Jan 10, 2014


Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Sonny Rollins.


1930 Birth Born on September 7, 1930.


1946 15 Years Old Rollins started as a pianist, changed to alto saxophone, and finally switched to tenor in 1946. … Read More
1947 16 Years Old After graduating from high school in 1947, Rollins began performing professionally; he made his first recordings in early 1949 as a sideman with the bebop singer Babs Gonzales (J. J. Johnson was the arranger of the group). … Read More
1950 19 Years Old In early 1950, Rollins was arrested for armed robbery and spent ten months in Rikers Island jail before being released on parole; in 1952, he was re-arrested for violating the terms of his parole by using heroin.


1951 - 1955 4 More Events
After the deaths of Brown and the band's pianist, Richie Powell, in a June 1956 automobile accident, Rollins continued playing with Roach and began releasing albums under his own name on Prestige Records, Blue Note, Riverside, and the Los Angeles label Contemporary.
1957 26 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1957, Rollins pioneered the use of bass and drums, without piano, as accompaniment for his saxophone solos, a texture that came to be known as "strolling." … Read More
1958 27 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1958, he appeared in Art Kane's A Great Day in Harlem photograph of jazz musicians in New York; as of 2016, he is one of only two surviving musicians from the photo (the other being Benny Golson). … Read More
1959 28 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1959 he toured Europe for the first time, performing in Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and France.


1961 - 1963 3 More Events
1966 35 Years Old Upon signing with Impulse! Records, he released a soundtrack to the 1966 film Alfie, as well as There Will Never Be Another You and Sonny Rollins on Impulse! … Read More
1968 37 Years Old In 1968, he was the subject of a television documentary, directed by Dick Fontaine, entitled Who is Sonny Rollins?
1969 38 Years Old In 1969, Rollins took another two-year sabbatical from public performance. … Read More


1971 40 Years Old He returned from his second sabbatical with a performance in Kongsberg, Norway, in 1971.
1972 41 Years Old 1 More Event
Reviewing a March 1972 performance at New York's Village Vanguard night club, The New Yorker critic Whitney Balliett wrote that Rollins "had changed again. … Read More
1974 43 Years Old In 1974, Rollins added jazz bagpiper Rufus Harley to his band; the group was filmed performing live at Ronnie Scott's in London. … Read More
1978 47 Years Old He also frequently played long, extemporaneous unaccompanied cadenzas during performances with his band; a prime example is his introduction to the tune "Autumn Nocturne" on the 1978 album Don't Stop the Carnival. … Read More


1981 50 Years Old In 1981, he was asked to play uncredited on three tracks by the Rolling Stones for their album Tattoo You, including the single, "Waiting on a Friend". … Read More
1983 52 Years Old In 1983, he was honored as a "Jazz Master" by the National Endowment for the Arts. … Read More


1993 - 1997 3 More Events
2001 70 Years Old 1 More Event
Rollins won a 2001 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album for This Is What I Do (2000).
2004 - 2006 2 More Events
2007 76 Years Old During these years, Rollins regularly toured worldwide, playing major venues throughout Europe, South America, the Far East, and Australasia. On September 18, 2007, he performed at Carnegie Hall in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of his first performance there. … Read More
2010 79 Years Old In 2010 Rollins was awarded the National Medal of Arts and the Edward MacDowell Medal. … Read More
2013 82 Years Old In 2013, Rollins moved to Woodstock, New York. … Read More
2014 83 Years Old In 2014 he was the subject of a Dutch television documentary entitled Sonny Rollins-Morgen Speel ik Beter and in October 2015, he received the Jazz Foundation of America's lifetime achievement award. … Read More
2015 84 Years Old This became one of Rollins's best-selling records; in 2015 it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. … Read More
Original Authors of this text are noted on
Text is made available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.