John Coltrane Net Worth at Death – How Did He Get Rich?

John Coltrane Net Worth 

John Coltrane had an estimated net worth of $4 million at the time of his death. John Coltrane was an acclaimed American saxophonist, bandleader, and composer, becoming an iconic figure of jazz in the 20th century with albums like ‘Giant Steps,’ ‘My Favorite Things’ and ‘A Love Supreme.’ He earned most of his income from album sales and concerts. 

In the 1940s and 50s, John Coltrane developed his craft as a saxophonist and composer, working with famous musiciansand bandleaders Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington and Miles Davis. Coltrane turned the world of jazz on its head with his technically wonderful, innovative playing that was thrillingly dense and fluid in its understanding of the genre; his virtuosity and vision were evident on the now revered albums Giant Steps, My Favorite Things, and A Love Supreme, among others. He died of liver cancer in Huntington, Long Island, New York, on July 17, 1967, at the age of 40.

To calculate the net worth of John Coltrane, subtract all his liabilities from his total assets. Investments, savings, cash deposits, and any equity he has in a house, car, or other similar asset are included in the total assets. All debts, such as personal loans and mortgages, are included in total liabilities.

Here’s the breakdown of his net worth:

Name: John Coltrane
Net Worth: $4 Million
Monthly Salary: $70 Thousand
Annual Income: $1 Million
Source of Wealth: Musician, Composer, Bandleader, Songwriter, Saxophonist

Background and Early Years

John William Coltrane, a revolutionary and groundbreaking jazz saxophonist, was born on September 23, 1926, in Hamlet, North Carolina, and grew up in nearby High Point. As a child, Coltrane was surrounded by music. His father, John R. Coltrane, was a tailor who loved music and played several instruments.

Jazz legends such as Count Basie and Lester Young influenced the younger Coltrane. Coltrane had picked up the alto saxophone in his teens and demonstrated immediate talent. Coltrane’s father died in 1939, along with several other relatives, and his family life took a tragic turn. Financial difficulties defined this period for Coltrane, and his mother Alice and other family members eventually relocated to New Jersey in the hopes of a better life. Coltrane stayed in North Carolina until he finished high school.

In 1943, he, too, relocated north, specifically to Philadelphia, to pursue a career as a musician. Coltrane briefly attended the Ornstein School of Music. However, with the country at war, he was called to duty and enlisted in the Navy. Coltrane was stationed in Hawaii during his service and regularly performed and recorded with a quartet of fellow sailors.

Joining Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington

Coltrane returned to civilian life in the summer of 1946, landing in Philadelphia, where he studied at the Granoff School of Music and joined a number of jazz bands. One of the first was Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson’s band, for whom Coltrane switched to tenor sax. Later, he joined Jimmy Heath’s band, where he fully explored his experimental side.

Then, in the fall of 1949, he joined a big band led by famed trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, where he stayed for the next year and a half. Coltrane had begun to make a name for himself. But, like many other jazz musicians, he began to experiment with drugs, primarily heroin, in the 1950s. His talent landed him jobs, but his addictions cut them short. Ellington hired John Coltrane to temporarily replace Johnny Hodges in 1954, but fired him soon after due to his drug addiction.

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Working With Miles Davis

Coltrane was recovering in the mid-1950s when Davis asked him to join his group, the Miles Davis Quintet. Davis encouraged Coltrane to push his creative boundaries while holding him accountable for his drug habits.

The next few years, with the group working under a new recording contract with Columbia Records, proved fruitful and artistically rewarding with albums such as The New Miles Davis Quintet (1956) and ‘Round About Midnight (1957). Coltrane also played on Davis’ seminal masterpiece Kind of Blue (1959).

Albums and Songs

From ‘Blue Train’ to ‘Giant Steps’

Having already fired and rehired his bandmate once, Davis fired Coltrane again in 1957 after the latter failed to give up heroin. Whether this was the exact catalyst for Coltrane finally getting sober isn’t certain, but the saxophonist finally got off drugs.

He worked with pianist Thelonious Monk for a few months and developed as a bandleader and solo artist at the same time, which was reflected in the release of albums such as Blue Train (1957) and Soultrane (1958). At the beginning of the new decade, Coltrane debuted on Atlantic Records with the groundbreaking album Giant Steps (1960), for which he wrote all the material himself.

By this time, Coltrane had developed a distinctive sound, characterised in part by his ability to play multiple notes simultaneously in wondrous cascades of scales, what critic Ira Gitler called the “sheets of sound” technique in 1958. Coltrane reportedly described it as, “I start in the middle of a movement and move in both directions at once.”

‘My Favorite Things’

In the fall of 1960, Coltrane led a group that included pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Steve Davis, and drummer Elvin Jones to create My Favorite Things (1961). Featuring the title track and the other standards “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye,” “Summertime” and “But Not for Me,” the album was also noted for Coltrane’s performance on soprano saxophone.

The bandleader was catapulted into fame. In the years that followed, Coltrane was praised – and to a lesser extent criticized – for his sound. His albums from this period include Duke Ellington and John Coltrane (1963), Impressions (1963), and Live at Birdland (1964).

‘A Love Supreme’

A Love Supreme (1965) is probably Coltrane’s most acclaimed album worldwide. The concise, four-movement album, a best-seller that went gold decades later (along with My Favorite Things), is noted not only for Coltrane’s astonishing technical vision, but also for its nuanced spiritual explorations and ultimate transcendence. The work was nominated for two Grammys and is considered one of the most important albums by jazz historians around the world.

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Having previously been married to Juanita “Naima” Grubbs, Coltrane married pianist and harpist Alice McLeod (or MacLeod, as some sources report) in the mid-1960s. Alice Coltrane also played in her husband’s band and established her own unique jazz career, known for its Asian style fusions and divine orientation.

Final Years and Death

Over the last two years of his life, Coltrane wrote and recorded a significant amount of material, which was described as avant-garde, steeped in poignant spirituality for some while scorned by others. Kulu Se Mama and Meditations, his final two albums released while he was still alive, were recorded in 1966. Expression was completed just days before his death. On July 17, 1967, at the age of 40, he died of liver cancer in Huntington, Long Island, New York, leaving behind his second wife and four children.

‘Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album’

Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album, a collection of material lost to time until recently discovered by the family of his first wife, was announced in June 2018 by Impulse! Records.

The album, which was recorded on a single day in March 1963 with his “classic quartet” of Jimmy Garrison, Elvin Jones, and McCoy Tyner, included a studio version of “Impressions,” a concert favorite, as well as two original, untitled tracks that were believed to have been recorded exclusively for this collection.


Coltrane, a voracious reader known for his gentleness, had a huge impact on the music world. He revolutionized jazz with his innovative, demanding techniques, while also demonstrating a deep appreciation for sounds from other continents such as Africa, Latin America, the Far East, and South Asia.

After receiving a Grammy posthumously in 1981 for the live recording Bye Bye Blackbird, Coltrane received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992, with a slew of previously unseen recordings and reissues released in the years since his death.

The musician was also given a special posthumous citation by the Pulitzer Prize Board in 2007. Coltrane’s work remains an important part of the sonic landscape and a major source of inspiration for younger generations of musicians.

Further Reading

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