This pice was originally published July 16th, 2012.
Born in Oxford, Mississippi he grew up in St. Louis, Missouri where, in the early fifties, he played trumpet with the U.S. Navy band and a few other bands.
Migrating to Chicago, a turning point came in 1959 when he joined the inimitable Sun Ra Arkestra.
Cohran was introduced to Sun Ra by his friend, Ra’s tenor sax player and constant member John Gilmore. With Sun Ra, Cohran was playing trumpet, cornet and at times zithers plus another instrument of his own inventionThe Frankiephone.
Essentially an electric kalimba, on the Sun Ra albums that he appears on: Interstellar Low Ways, Fate In A Pleasant Mood, Angels and Demons At Play and We Travel The Spaceways, Cohran’s Frankiphone was called theSpace Harp. Cohran and his kalimba was also a big influence on a young Maurice White, who formed Earth Wind and Fire in Chicago, 1969.