From the mid 1950s until his death in 1993, Sun Ra led "The Arkestra", an ensemble with an ever-changing line-up and name which sometimes numbered as many as thirty musicians living and playing together under the despotic tutelage of Sun Ra himself. Their music touched upon the entire history of jazz, from ragtime to swing, bebop to free jazz,while the band also pioneered the use of new forms, including electronic music, space music and free improvisation. But Sun Ra’s legendary status was earned as much for his eccentricities as for his unique artistic vision. Claiming to be from Saturn, he developed and propagated a mystifying sci-fi mythology which he weaved into both the music and Dadaist performances of The Arkestra (performances which inspired artists as diverse as George Clinton and MC5). His ideas are still the cause of much debate and controversy, the poetry and prose Sun Ra left behind only deepening the ambiguities around his work and ideas.
This book collects together for the first time interviews with Sun Ra, the people that knew him, and his contemporaries, alongside illuminating essays and conversational pieces regarding his prolific musical output, mystique, philosophy, fans and much more.