Essay from Issue 221

John Coltrane: Divine Wind

January 2008

John Coltrane died of liver cancer 35 years ago this month, burned out by the increasing intensity of his musical quest. In this personal memoir of the final years of Coltrane’s career, Howard Mandel recalls the incomprehensible effect of Coltrane’s later period music as he plunged into a creative kamikaze strike as self-destructive as it was hallowed, fuelled by hallucinogenics, mystic fervour and a belief in music’s power to unite the human race. This article was originally published in The Wire 221 (July 2002).