Herbie Hancock signs book deal for memoir

The award-winning, groundbreaking jazz performer and composer has a deal with Viking for a memoir expected in 2014.

“Quincy Jones is a dear friend of mine and he keeps saying to me, ‘You’ve got to do a book,'” Hancock said Tuesday during a telephone interview to USA Today from Shanghai, where he is currently on tour.

“I’ve had a life that has taken many interesting paths. I’ve learned a lot from mentors who were instrumental in shaping me and I want to share what I’ve learned.”

Hancock, who turns 72 today, has won 14 Grammys and for decades has been mixing jazz with blues, soul, funk and electronic music.

He will work on the book with a collaborator, still to be determined. Financial terms were not disclosed for the memoir, which interested several publishers, but was landed by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA).

The book will be, in part, a spiritual journey. Hancock will tell of being a Buddhist and how he does not see himself primarily as a musician, even though he has been playing piano since age 7.

He also promises plenty of stories about music, including one about touring with Davis in the 1960s. They were playing in Europe and were having an especially good night, the audience rapt.

“And just as Miles was about to start his solo for ‘So What,’ at the peak of the concert, I hit a note that was so wrong I thought I had crumbled the show down like a falling tent,” he recalled.

“And Miles took a breath, and played some notes that made my note right. That lesson wasn’t just about music. It was about life.”

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