Sonny Rollins' letter to Coleman Hawkins

I recently got my hands on a copy of a three page handwritten letter that Sonny Rollins sent Coleman Hawkins in 1962. It is written on Sonny's personal letterhead and there is even an AMORC Rosicrucian seal on the final page of the letter, an organization that Sonny has been involved with for many years. At the moment my scanner isn't working, but I'll try to scan a copy to post soon.

   My Dear Mr. Hawkins, 
 Your recent performance at the 'Village Gate' was magnificent!! Quite aside from the fact that you have maintained a position of dominance and leadership in the highly competitive field of 'Jazz' for the time that you have, there remains the more significant fact that such tested and tried musical achievement denotes and is subsidiary to personal character and integrity of being.

 There have been many young men of high potential and demonstrated ability who have unfortunately not been 'MEN' in their personal and offstage practices and who soon found themselves devoid of the ability to create music. Perhaps these chaps were unable to understand why their musical powers left them so suddenly. Or perhaps they knew what actions were constructive as opposed to destructive but were too weak and not men enough to command the course of their lives. But certain it is that character, knowledge and virtue are superior to 'MUSIC' as such. And that 'success' is relative to the evolution of those qualities within us all. That it has been positive and lasting for you Coleman is to the honor and credit of us, your colleagues, as well as to your own credit. For you have 'lit the flame' of aspiration within so many of us and have epitomized the superiority of 'excellence of endeavor' and you stand today as a clear living example for us to learn from.
 It has always been a task to explain in words those things which in nature are the most profound and meaningful. Now you have show me why I though so much of you for so long. Godspeed in your travels and may I be fortunate enough to hear you play the tenor saxophone again in person.
     Yours truly, Sonny Rollins


Kokopelli said...

Most Impressive letter, the quality of the man shines through, I saw him live for the first time this year, 49 years after this letter.
I understand he is writting his autobiography, will be a facinating read.
Thanks for posting this.

Me Me said...

That is deep!

chayjazz said...

that's inspiring to read. Thanx David...

Fernando Ortiz de Urbina said...

Hello - I wrote about this some time ago, and about the possibility of that Village Gate performance being actually on record, in my blog.


wrappedinjazz said...

Beautiful, just beautiful. Mr. Rollins expressed in words what some many fans would like to say to Artists if the opportunity arises. It is a rare occasion to read how appreciative one artist is for another. Mr. Valdez, thank you very much for sharing..

joesh said...

Out of interest did he receive a reply from Hawk? You should tell us a little more about the letters that you got hold of. What's the story behind them, are there loads out there that people collect etc?

Amazing, it's a shame we lost the art of letter writing. I remember corresponding with many people for years. But with the invention of the net, and finally emails, all that died out.

Thanks for the post.

nad said...

To have listened to sonny Rollins so late in his career but yet it was for me a final chance to see him play, my most revered of all the great tenor players, indeed that opportunity arose and finally in my undecided commitment. This in itself is such a extraordinary experience for me. But to have met and have a photo with and signature with personal message is the pinnacle of all my interests in the tenor saxophone...