Armando Anthony Corea, more affectionately known as ‘Chick’ Corea and one of the true pioneers of jazz fusion has died, aged 79 from a rare form of cancer. His compositions Spain, 500 Miles High, La Fiesta, and Windows are widely considered jazz standards. Chick made a name for himself as a brilliant young musician in the early 60s as part of Miles Davis’ groundbreaking band, as well as playing with other jazz legends like Herbie Mann and Stan Getz. In the 70s he then formed one of the most influential jazz fusion bands of all time Return to Forever. Combining his light, playful melodies with the use of synthesizers and numerous electric keyboard instruments plus the incorporation of rock and Spanish rhythms, Corea appealed to an audience beyond the boundaries of the jazz market. After the demise of Return to Forever, he put together yet another acclaimed jazz rock group, The Chick Corea Elektric band, featuring Dave Weckl, Scott Henderson, Carlos Rios, and John Patitucci. Chick Corea is the fourth-most-nominated artist in the history of the Grammys, with 65 nominations, winning 23. He’s also earned 3 Latin Grammy Awards, the most of any artist in the Best Instrumental Album category. Corea was a regular visitor to Australia, performing here last in 2015 with another jazz legend Herbie Hancock.

The world was made aware of Chick’s passing this morning via this announcement on the artist’s Facebook page:

“It is with great sadness we announce that on February 9th, Chick Corea passed away at the age of 79, from a rare form of cancer which was only discovered very recently. Throughout his life and career, Chick relished in the freedom and the fun to be had in creating something new, and in playing the games that artists do.

He was a beloved husband, father and grandfather, and a great mentor and friend to so many. Through his body of work and the decades he spent touring the world, he touched and inspired the lives of millions. Though he would be the first to say that his music said more than words ever could, he nevertheless had this message for all those he knew and loved, and for all those who loved him: “I want to thank all of those along my journey who have helped keep the music fires burning bright. It is my hope that those who have an inkling to play, write, perform or otherwise, do so. If not for yourself then for the rest of us. It’s not only that the world needs more artists, it’s also just a lot of fun.

“And to my amazing musician friends who have been like family to me as long as I’ve known you: It has been a blessing and an honor learning from and playing with all of you. My mission has always been to bring the joy of creating anywhere I could, and to have done so with all the artists that I admire so dearly—this has been the richness of my life.”

Chick’s family will of course appreciate their privacy during this difficult time of loss.”

Tributes have begun to flood onto social media from musicians of all genres

Steve Stevens
“Safe travels Chick Corea. While the English guys were creating progressive rock, here in the states jazz fusion was showing how adventurous music could be. I was listening to a steady diet of both. Chick’s compositions and playing were exquisite.”

Leo Sayer
“OMG! I can’t believe it. I was just listening to his latest piece of genius last night, and this morning I wake up and Chick Corea is gone! Farewell and thank you to one of the most selfless musical genius’ there ever was…”

Vernon Reid
“Just got the terrible news of Chick Corea passing. Stunned”

Donny McCaslin
“Heartbreaking to hear this. Chick was a genius musician and his contribution to jazz and all things creative was tremendous. Condolences to his family and loved ones.”

Nile Rodgers
“You came into my atmosphere and changed music forever. #returntoforever. My heartfelt condolences to your family and friends”

“How apropos that #ChickCorea is now returning… forever. One of the nicest warmest creative beings ever. Always took time out to talk & tell stories. Even weirder always asked ME questions—-I’m like “you’re CHICK COREA man!! —-the hell does he know about (name something I did here)——I was amazed at his willingness to still learn and be open to ideas and new music. I wanna be him when I grow up. The immortal colorful master @ChickCorea ….rest in melody.”

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  • Dom DiSisto
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