Les McCann Biography, Net Worth, Age, Spouse, Kids and Grandchildren, Relationship, Parents, Family

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Les McCann, a well-known jazz pianist and singer, passed away on December 29, 2023, at the age of 88.

He was recognized for his soulful and bluesy musical style, particularly for his popular song “Compared to What,” which became widely sampled in hip-hop. McCann had an extensive career, releasing more than 60 albums and playing a significant role in the soul-jazz movement.

Besides his musical talents, he was also a skilled photographer and painter, with his works featured in the book ‘Invitation to Openness: The Jazz & Soul Photography of Les McCann 1960-1980.’

His influence extended to hip-hop, where artists like Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg, and A Tribe Called Quest sampled his music. His manager, Alan Abrahams, confirmed his death, stating that McCann had been hospitalized due to pneumonia.

McCann’s impact on the music industry and his distinctive musical style have left a lasting legacy.

Introduction to Les McCann Biography

Leslie Coleman McCann, born on September 23, 1935, in Lexington, Kentucky, was an iconic American jazz pianist and vocalist known for his contributions to soul jazz.

In this comprehensive biographic blog post, we will delve into the various chapters of McCann’s remarkable life, from his early days in Lexington to his influential career and lasting legacy in the world of jazz.


Age, Birthplace, Origin, Nationality, Ethnicity, and Occupation

Leslie Coleman McCann, known simply as Les McCann, spent 88 vibrant years on this Earth. He was born in Lexington, Kentucky, showcasing his American roots.

His contributions to jazz marked him as a proud representative of the music scene, especially in the genres of jazz and soul jazz.

Early Life and Education

Growing up in a musically inclined family, McCann’s roots in music were deep. Raised alongside three sisters, who were active in church choirs, he was surrounded by the melodies of jazz and opera.

Despite playing the tuba and drums in his school’s marching band, McCann’s journey as a pianist was largely self-taught.

His passion for music was ignited during his brief piano lessons at the age of six, and his formal education at Los Angeles City College played a crucial role in shaping his musical career.


Les McCann’s musical journey took a significant turn at 17 when he joined the U.S. Navy in San Diego. During his service, he won a singing contest, earning him a spot on The Ed Sullivan Show.

After leaving the Navy, McCann headed to California, forming his own trio and turning down an offer to join Cannonball Adderley’s band, choosing to focus on his unique musical vision.

In the early 1960s, McCann’s career soared with groundbreaking recordings alongside his trio for Pacific Jazz. His pivotal moment came in 1969 with the release of “Swiss Movement,” a collaboration with saxophonist Eddie Harris.

The album not only made it to the Billboard charts but also featured the iconic protest song “Compared to What.” This marked a turning point as McCann became an innovator in soul jazz, merging jazz with funk, soul, and world rhythms.

He gained influence for his use of electric piano, clavinet, and synthesizer. In 1971, McCann and Harris joined a group of performers for a historic concert in Accra, Ghana, recorded for the documentary film “Soul to Soul.”

Despite a mid-1990s stroke, McCann made a musical comeback in 2002 with the release of “Pump it Up” and continued producing music until 2018. Alongside his musical endeavors, he showcased his talents as a painter and photographer.

Les McCann Net Worth

Les McCann’s net worth is estimated to be between $1.5 million and $5 million.

Source of Income and Occupation

A major source of income for this individual stemmed from his music career, which spanned many decades and encompassed numerous albums and performances.

Some key highlights and accomplishments include:

  1. Winning a singing competition during his service in the U.S. Navy, leading to an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.
  2. Releasing numerous albums, starting with “Les McCann Ltd. Plays the Truth” in 1960.
  3. Collaborating with renowned musicians like Quincy Jones and Miles Davis.
  4. Playing a crucial role in founding the soul-jazz genre and influencing many hip-hop artists.
  5. McCann’s piano work has become a staple in modern hip-hop, often sampled, contributing further to his earnings.

His enduring career and notable contributions have left a lasting impact, particularly in the realms of jazz and hip-hop, making him a respected figure in the music industry.

Personal Life

Les McCann was once married to Rochelle, but they publicly announced the end of their marriage following a yearlong separation. Unfortunately, the available search results do not provide information about his children.

Parents and Siblings

His parents, James and Anna McCann, raised him in a household filled with musical influences, alongside his four siblings. His three sisters, active in church choirs, further enriched his early exposure to music.

McCann’s familial ties were rooted in music. Growing up with a father who was a jazz music enthusiast and a mother who hummed opera tunes, his childhood was infused with a rich musical tapestry.


On December 29, 2023, at the age of 88, Les McCann succumbed to pneumonia in a Los Angeles hospital, leaving behind a legacy that would resonate through the annals of jazz history.


Les McCann’s influence transcended his lifetime. Widely sampled in hip-hop music by nearly 300 acts, including A Tribe Called Quest, Dr. Dre, and Nas, his impact on the music industry remains unparalleled.

McCann’s legacy extends not only through his music but also through his resilience, as he returned to the music scene after a mid-1990s stroke, continuing to release albums until 2018.


Les McCann’s discography is a testament to his prolific career, featuring a wide array of albums showcasing his evolution as a musician. From early works like “Les McCann Ltd.

Plays the Truth” to later releases such as “Pump It Up,” each album reflects his versatility and commitment to pushing musical boundaries.

Les McCann’s Albums

Solo Albums

  1. Plays the Truth (Pacific Jazz, 1960)
  2. Plays the Shout (Pacific Jazz, 1960; Sunset, 1970)
  3. In San Francisco (Pacific Jazz, 1961)
  4. Pretty Lady (Pacific Jazz, 1961)
  5. Sings (Pacific Jazz, 1961)
  6. Somethin’ Special with Richard “Groove” Holmes (Pacific Jazz, 1962)
  7. In New York (Pacific Jazz, 1962)
  8. On Time (Pacific Jazz, 1962)
  9. The Gospel Truth (Pacific Jazz, 1963)
  10. Plays the Shampoo (Pacific Jazz, 1963)
  11. McCanna (Pacific Jazz, 1963)
  12. Jazz Waltz with the Jazz Crusaders (Pacific Jazz, 1963)
  13. Spanish Onions (Pacific Jazz, 1964)
  14. McCann/Wilson with Gerald Wilson (Pacific Jazz, 1964)
  15. Soul Hits (Pacific Jazz, 1964)
  16. Beaux J. Pooboo (Limelight, 1965)
  17. But Not Really (Limelight, 1965)
  18. Plays the Hits (Limelight, 1966)
  19. A Bag of Gold (Pacific Jazz, 1966)
  20. Live at Shelly’s Manne-Hole (Limelight, 1966)
  21. Live at Bohemian Caverns–Washington, D.C. (Limelight, 1967)
  22. Bucket o’ Grease (Limelight, 1967)
  23. From the Top of the Barrel (Pacific Jazz, 1967)
  24. More or Les McCann (World Pacific, 1969)
  25. Much Les (Atlantic, 1969)
  26. Swiss Movement with Eddie Harris (Atlantic, 1969)
  27. New from the Big City (World Pacific, 1970)
  28. Comment (Atlantic, 1970)
  29. Second Movement with Eddie Harris (Atlantic, 1971)
  30. Invitation to Openness (Atlantic, 1972)
  31. Talk to the People (Atlantic, 1972)
  32. Live at Montreux (Atlantic, 1973)
  33. Layers (Atlantic, 1973)
  34. Another Beginning (Atlantic, 1974)
  35. Doldinger Jubilee ’75 (Atlantic, 1975)
  36. Hustle to Survive (Atlantic, 1975)
  37. River High, River Low (Atlantic, 1976)
  38. Music Lets Me Be (ABC/Impulse!, 1977)
  39. Change, Change, Change (ABC/Impulse!, 1977)
  40. The Man (A&M, 1978)
  41. Tall, Dark & Handsome (A&M, 1979)
  42. The Longer You Wait (Jam, 1983)
  43. Music Box (Jam, 1984)
  44. Road Warriors with Houston Person (Greene Street, 1984)
  45. Butterfly (Stone, 1988)
  46. Les Is More (Night, 1990)
  47. On the Soul Side (MusicMasters, 1994)
  48. Listen Up! (MusicMasters, 1996)
  49. Pacifique with Joja Wendt (MusicMasters, 1998)
  50. How’s Your Mother? (32 Jazz, 1998)
  51. Pump It Up (ESC, 2002)
  52. Vibrations: Funkin’ Around Something Old Something New (Jazz Legend Project) (Leafage Jazz/Pony Canyon, 2003)
  53. The Shout (American Jazz Classics, 2011)
  54. 28 Juillet (Fremeaux, 2018)

As Sideman

  • Teddy Edwards, It’s About Time (Pacific Jazz, 1960)
  • Richard “Groove” Holmes, Groove (Pacific Jazz, 1961)
  • Richard “Groove” Holmes, Tell It Like It Tis (Pacific Jazz, 1961)
  • Lou Rawls, Stormy Monday (Capitol, 1962)
  • Stanley Turrentine, That’s Where It’s At (Blue Note, 1962)
  • Clifford Scott, Out Front (Pacific Jazz, 1963)
  • Stanley Turrentine, Straight Ahead (Blue Note, 1985)
  • Cash McCall, Cash Up Front (Stone, 1988)
  • Herbie Mann, Deep Pocket (Kokopelli, 1994)
  • Bill Evans, Soul Insider (ESC Records, 2000)

In conclusion

Les McCann’s journey is one of musical innovation, resilience, and lasting impact. His legacy, woven into the fabric of jazz history, continues to inspire and resonate with music enthusiasts around the world.

Les McCann Biography, Net Worth, Age, Spouse, Kids and Grandchildren, Relationship, Parents, Family

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