Sun Ra (Born Herman Poole Blount; legal name Le Sony'r Ra; born May 22, 1914 in Birmingham, Alabama, died May 30, 1993 in Birmingham, Alabama) was an innovative jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, who came to be known as much for his "cosmic philosophy" as for his musical compositions and performances.
He abandoned his birth name and took on the name and persona of Sun Ra (Ra being the ancient Egyptian god of the Sun). Claiming that he was of the "Angel Race" and not from Earth, but from Saturn, Ra developed a complicated persona of "cosmic" philosophies and lyrical poetry that made him a pioneer of Afrofuturism as he preached "awareness" and peace above all. Some regarded him as a crank because of these traits, but most recognized his immense musical talents.
A prolific recording artist and frequent live performer, Sun Ra's music ranged from keyboard solos to big bands of 30-odd musicians; his music touched on virtually the entire history of jazz, from ragtime to swing music, from bebop to free jazz; he was also a pioneer of electronic music and free improvisation, and was one of the first musicians to use electronic keyboards.
He eschewed racism, and insisted his musicians avoid drug abuse, but he rarely spoke directly about politics or any controversial subjects.