Musician Herbie Hancock Has Book Deal For A Memoir

After decades of making history, Herbie Hancock is ready to tell it.

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 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.”

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World Heritage Convention, Unesco Headquarters, Paris, France

Hancock, who turns 72 this week, has won 14 Grammys and for decades has been mixing jazz with blues, soul, funk and electronic music. He won an Academy Award in 1986 for the score to “‘Round Midnight.”

He is known for his pioneering work with Miles Davis, for such standards as “Cantaloupe Island” and “Chameleon” and for the hit instrumental “Rockit,” the video of which helped make him the rare jazz performer to catch on with MTV fans. Hancock is currently a goodwill ambassador for UNESCO.

He has not only played with such jazz greats as Davis, Coleman Hawkins and Donald Byrd, but with such pop performers as Joni Mitchell, Sting and Stevie Wonder. His 2010 album, The Imagine Project, includes contributions from Seal, John Legend and Dave Matthews.

“I am hoping this book will not only appeal to jazz fans,” he said.

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). Hancock was represented by Washington attorney Robert Barnett, whose clients range from President Obama to Barbra Streisand.

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.

“Being a musician is not what I am, it’s what I do,” he explained. “To my wife, I’m not Herbie Hancock the musician. I’m her husband. When I’m talking to a neighbor, I’m a neighbor. When I vote, I’m a citizen.”

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.

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"Legends In Imaging," Canon Pixmas Pro-1 launch, New York City

“And Miles took a breath, and played some notes that made my note right. It took me years to understand that Miles didn’t judge what I played. He worked with it. That lesson wasn’t just about music. It was about life.”