Herbie Hancock is an iconic jazz musician, known as much for his mastery of the traditional as he is for entirely changing the game.

Why you should listen

Pianist and composer Herbie Hancock has been a part of every permutation and development of both acoustic and electronic jazz since his career began. He truly stepped into the spotlight in 1963, releasing his first hit “Watermelon Man” and then joining the Miles Davis Quintet. From these promising beginnings, Hancock went on to outdo all expectations, earning critical acclaim, the respect of his peers and commercial success. He has generated more than 50 albums, won 12 Grammys, received an Academy Award and even scored five MTV Awards in the 1980s.

Hancock is known for his extraordinary career as well as for his penchant for experimentation. A double major in music and electrical engineering at college, his fascination with musical gadgets led him to become one of the first jazz pianists to work with electronic keyboards. As well as using unexpected instruments, Hancock’s landmark albums blurred the boundaries of music, effortlessly mixing jazz with the once unlikely partners of funk, soul, rhythm and blues, and more. Hancock’s experimentation has changed the face of jazz forever, and even as he approaches his 70th year he continues to perform, create, push the envelope and amaze.

What others say

“Herbie was the step after Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk, and I haven't heard anybody yet who has come after him.” — Miles Davis

Herbie Hancock’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Herbie Hancock


An all-star set: Herbie Hancock on TED.com

January 8, 2010

Legendary jazz musician Herbie Hancock delivers a stunning performance alongside two old friends — past drummer for The Headhunters, Harvey Mason and bassist, Marcus Miller. Listen to the end to hear them sweeten the classic “Watermelon Man.” (Recorded at TED2009, February 2009, Long Beach, California. Duration: 25:05) Twitter URL: http://on.ted.com/546Z Watch Herbie Hancock’s talk on […]

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