He died on February 17, 1982 from a stroke.
Born Thelonious Sphere Monk, he is considered one of the giants of American music. Monk made his first studio recordings with the Coleman Hawkins Quartet in 1944.
Often regarded as a founder of bebop, Monk's playing later evolved away from that style. Monk had a unique improvisational style and made numerous contributions to the standard jazz repertoire, including "Epistrophy," "'Round Midnight," "Blue Monk," "Straight, No Chaser" and "Well, You Needn't."
He is one of only five jazz musicians to be featured on the cover of Time magazine. The other four were Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Wynton Marsalis, and Dave Brubeck.)
Monk is the second most recorded jazz composer after Duke Ellington, even though Ellington composed over 1,000 songs while Monk wrote about 70.
Monk was renowned for his distinctive style in suits, hats and sunglasses. He was also noted for the fact that at times, while the other musicians in the band continued playing, he would stop, stand up from the keyboard and dance for a few moments before returning to the piano.
One of his regular dances consisted of continuously turning counterclockwise, which has drawn comparisons to ring-shout and Sufi whirling.
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