Alice Coltrane, the jazz performer and composer who was inextricably linked with the adventurous musical improvisations of her late husband, legendary saxophonist John Coltrane, has died. She was 69.
Coltrane died Friday at West Hills Hospital and Medical Center in West Hills, according to an announcement from the family's publicist. She had been in frail health for some time and died of respiratory failure.
Though known to many for her contributions to jazz and early New Age music, Coltrane, a convert to Hinduism, was also a significant spiritual leader and founded the Vedantic Center, a spiritual commune now located in Agoura Hills. A guru of growing repute, she also served as the swami of the San Fernando Valley's first Hindu temple, in Chatsworth.
For much of the last nearly 40 years, she was also the keeper of her husband's musical legacy, managing his archive and estate. Her husband, one of the pivotal figures in the history of jazz, died of liver disease July 17, 1967, at the age of 40.
A pianist and organist, Alice Coltrane was noted for her astral compositions and for bringing the harp onto the jazz bandstand. Her last performances came in the fall, when she participated in an abbreviated tour that included stops in New York and San Francisco, playing with her saxophonist son, Ravi.
She was born Alice McLeod in Detroit on Aug. 27, 1937, into a family with deep musical roots. Anna, her mother, sang and played piano in the Baptist church choir. Alice's half brother Ernie Farrow was a bassist who played professionally with groups led by saxophonist Yusef Lateef and vibes player Terry Gibbs.
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