How much money have Jimmy Cobb, John Coltrane and the other musicians made from Kind of Blue?

Kind of Blue is the best-selling jazz album of all time. It is also the most heralded, and most influential. Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly, Cannonball Adderley, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb – these are all titans of the jazz world that came together for one perfect album. Even if you’re completely unaware of jazz, or thought you hated jazz, if you listen to this album, you’ll probably really like it.

So what (play on words intended for those of you who know the name of the first track) kind of riches have the musicians who helped Miles create this masterpiece made financially over the years? Here’s a photo of the payments from the first of two sessions for the album.


Each performer made $64.67. Chambers and Jimmy Cobb had to bring more gear so they got an extra two dollars each for ‘cartage’. 

That’s it. No royalties, no more money. $64.47.

This was just one day in thousands of sessions and gigs for these great men. And the pay from each session and each gig all added up (hopefully) to enough money to live a life doing what they loved. (Stay tuned for more on that at the end of this article.)

Contrast this with CEO pay – $7.4 million a year average in 2018. (Median worker pay was $77,000.) 

It doesn’t seem fair, does it? 

Do you do good work, have you helped, have you been of use? Do other people seem more successful, have more money, people you don’t think deserve it…not like you?

What if the mark of success isn’t money at all? What if it’s what intangible gift you give others, what lives you change by being you? What if a life live quixotically guided by your inner muse that looks downright weird to others is success?

What if we’ve been looking for success in the wrong place this whole time?

PS: Jimmy Cobb is the last man standing from the Kind of Blue recording, still drumming at 92. He says of the Kind of Blue session, “It must have been made in heaven.” 

He, however, is in poor health and could use your help. Here’s a GoFundMe campaign started by his daughter to help pay for his health expenses. 

I’m skeptical of many GoFundMe campaigns (those ‘pay for my trip to -fill in the blank- ones especially). 

This is not one of them – it’s the perfect use of this tool. Let’s help Jimmy as thanks for helping us. 

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