Rollins, (Theodore Walter) “Sonny”(1929– ) jazz musician; born in New York City. A commanding tenor saxophonist and improvisor, he worked as a sideman with Bud Powell, J. J. Johnson, Thelonious Monk, and Miles Davis between 1949–55, and began recording on a free-lance basis as a leader in 1951. His career was hampered early on by drug addiction, but he emerged in 1957 from a two-year engagement with the Max Roach-Clifford Brown Quintet as the celebrated leader of his own group. His initial renown was in the hard bop style of modern jazz, but his continual incorporation of calypso, soul, and rock elements enabled him to remain an influential figure for the remainder of his career.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.