#337: Rockit by Herbie Hancock
Peak Month: May 1984
11 weeks on CKLG’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #4 ~ CFUN
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #71
Herbert Jeffrey Hancock was born in Chicago in 1940. His parents weren’t musical. However, when Herbie was seven years of age he began to study classical music. By the age of eleven he was hailed as a child prodigy after his performance of the first movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 26 in D Major with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Growing up, his major jazz influences were Oscar Peterson, Erroll Garner and Bill Evans. In 1960, the twenty year-old Hancock was “discovered” by trumpet player Donald Byrd. This led to a record contract with Blue Note Records. Hancock got wider recognition as a recording artist in 1962 when he composed “Watermelon Man.” Although his single barely got any airplay it was covered by Cuban percussionist Mongo Santamaria who had a Top Ten instrumental hit with the tune in 1963. Over the years “Watermelon Man” has been covered by dozens of other performers including Manfred Mann, Bill Haley & His Comets, The J.B.’s (James Brown’s backing band), Albert King, LL Cool J, Madonna and others. “Watermelon Man” was the opening track from Hancock’s debut album, Takin’ Off, released in 1962. The album came to the attention of Miles Davis who invited Herbie Hancock to join the Miles Davis’ Quintet.