Some interesting facts about DeJohnette's early years...up to joining the Mile Davis group in 1969.
DeJohnette was born on 9 August 1942 in Chicago, Illinois.
He began his musical career as a piano player, studying from age four and beginning to play professionally at age 14, but he decided to forsake it and took on the drums as his main instrument. DeJohnette would later credit an uncle, Roy I. Wood Sr., as the person in his life who inspired him to play music. Wood was a Chicago disc jockey who would later become vice president of the National Network of Black Broadcasters.
DeJohnette began his drumming career playing R&B, hard bop, and avant-garde music in Chicago, leading his own groups while playing also with Richard Abrams and Roscoe Mitchell, both of whom were members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians.
In the early 1960s, Dejohnette had the opportunity to perform with John Coltrane and his quintet, an early foray into playing with big name jazz musicians.
In 1966 DeJohnette moved to New York City, where he became a member of the Charles Lloyd Quartet. A band that recognized the potential influence of rock and roll on jazz, Lloyd’s group was where DeJohnette would first encounter pianist Keith Jarrett, who would work extensively with DeJohnette throughout his career.
While Lloyd’s band was where he received international recognition for the first time, it was not the only group DeJohnette played with during his early years in New York, as he also worked with groups including Jackie McLean, Abbey Lincoln, Betty Carter, and Bill Evans. DeJohnette joined Evan’s trio in 1968, the same year the group headlined the Montreux Jazz Festival and produce the album Bill Evans at the Montreux Jazz Festival. In November 1968 he worked briefly with Stan Getz and his quartet, which led to his first recordings with Miles Davis.
In 1969, DeJohnette left the Evans trio and replaced Tony Williams in Miles Davis’ live band.