This Day in History – September 7, 1930

Saxophonist Walter Theodore Rollins is born in New York City


On this day in 1930, American jazz tenor saxophonist Walter Theodore Rollins, better known as “Sonny” was born in New York City. Rollins has been described as being one of the most important and influential jazz musicians in history.

Sonny Rollins grew up in the Harlem section of New York City. At the young age of seven years old, Rollins received his first saxophone. In the primary years of being a musician, Sonny was a pianist, later changing to the alto saxophone, and then tenor. During the adolescent stage of his life, Rollins was involved in a bad with other impressive jazz music legends.


Sonny Rollins had a storied career of performing jazz music. His career lasted about seventy years. During this long span, Rollins recorded sixty albums as the lead musician on the album. Of these albums, many songs have become jazz standards and cherished among the jazz community. “St. Thomas”, “Oleo”, “Doxy”, and “Airegin” are some of the most famous compositions by Rollins. Jazz performers young and old look to Rollins as a prime example of what great jazz music sounds like.

Rollins is not only claimed as one of the best. He has awards and decorations to prove his mastery of the saxophone. A few of his awards include being elected to the “Down Beat” Jazz Hall of Fame, receiving a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement, winning the Polar Music Prize for over 50 years of being one of the most powerful and personal voices in Jazz, and being elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Sonny Rollins has not performed in public for about 5 years, since 2012, due to respiratory issues. Rollins, who many refer to as the “greatest living improviser”, is still alive today at the age of 86.


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