Died: Aug.16, 2007 (New York City)
Best Known as: jazz drummer
A founding father of bebop and a visionary bandleader, Roach brought percussion to the spotlight during the big-band era. He challenged musical barriers and brought about innovative changes to jazz by paying as much attention to a song’s beat as its melody. As a teenager Roach backed pioneers of modern jazz such as Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker, and performed recordings with Parker’s Ko-Ko and Miles Davis. He became the first jazz musician to receive a so-called genius grant from the MacArthur Foundation, in 1988.