John William Coltrane was born on September 23, 1926 in
Hamlet, North Carolina. At the age of three his family moved
to High Point, NC, where young Coltrane spent his early
years. His father, John Robert Coltrane, died in 1939,
leaving twelve year-old John and his mother on their own.
His mother, Alice Blair Coltrane, moved to New Jersey to
work as a domestic while John completed high school. John
played first the clarinet, then alto saxophone in his high
school band. His first musical influence was the tenor
saxophonist Lester Young of Count Basie's band. In June of
1943, after graduation, Coltrane moved to Philadelphia to
be closer to his mother.
After a yearlong stint in the Navy (1945-46), Coltrane began
playing gigs in and around Philadelphia