Saxophonist and Weather Report Co-Founder Wayne Shorter Dead at 89: 'He Is Irreplaceable'

Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
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Michael Putland/Getty Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter, an award-winning saxophonist, composer and bandleader has died. He was 89.

Shorter died on Thursday surrounded by his family in a hospital in Los Angeles, his rep confirmed to PEOPLE. A cause of death was not revealed.

"Wayne Shorter, my best friend, left us with courage in his heart, love and compassion for all, and a seeking spirit for the eternal future," Herbie Hancock said in a statement. "He was ready for his rebirth. As it is with every human being, he is irreplaceable and was able to reach the pinnacle of excellence as a saxophonist, composer, orchestrator, and recently, composer of the masterful opera '…Iphigenia.'"

He continued, "I miss being around him and his special Wayne-isms but I carry his spirit within my heart always."

Shorter began his career as a tenor and made a name for himself in the '60s before discovering his place as a soprano sax on jazz fusion band Weather Report.

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Born on Aug. 25, 1993 in Newark, New Jersey, Shorter went to Newark Arts High School where he played the clarinet and eventually the tenor saxophone. He played in the school's band alongside his brother Alan. He then went on to graduate from New York University in 1956 and served in the U.S. Army for a two-year stint. He first rose to prominence in the late '50s as the primary composer for Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers.

In the '60s, he joined the Miles Davis Quintet alongside the late Davis, bassist Ron Carter, drummer Tony Williams and pianist Hancock. During his time with the group, he also recorded solo albums including Juju and Speak No Evil. In 1979, he released The Soothsayer.

Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter

Jack Vartoogian/Getty Wayne Shorter

In the '70s he joined keyboardist Joe Zawinul and co-founded Weather Report, which became one of the most renowned jazz groups of the decade. They released an album titled 8:30, which won Shorter his first Grammy for best jazz fusion performance.

Shorter — who appeared on records with Joni Mitchell and Steely Dan — earned 13 Grammy awards in his lifetime and was awarded the lifetime achievement award by the Recording Academy in 2015. He earned his most recent in February.

After Weather Report, Shorter created a group under his name called the Wayne Shorter Quartet in 2001 and they released three albums together. In the biography Footprints: The Life and Work of Wayne Shorter, journalist Michelle Mercer examined the group as well as Shorter's Buddhist influence in his music.

"We have a phrase [in Buddhism]: hom nim yoh," he told NPR in 2013. "It means 'From this moment forward is the first day of my life.' So put 100 percent into the moment that you're in because the present moment is the only time when you can change the past and the future."

In 2016, he put on an iconic performance at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles alongside Carlos Santana and Hancock.

Shorter released his final album in 2018 titled Emanon, which earned him the Grammy award for best jazz instrumental album.

Shorter is survived by his wife Carolina, daughters Miyako and Mariana, and grandson Max.