b. 1914 – d. 1993

Lived and worked in Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia.

Sun Ra was one of the most remarkable and influential musical figures of the 20th century. At the helm of his big-band, the Arkestra, and as a pianist and composer, Ra helped orient jazz towards the future by means of a deep knowledge of the past. His creative output was immense, encompassing poetry, decor, pageantry, costume, and graphic art. Ra’s thinking has continued to be relevant to contemporary musicians and artists worldwide. His revolutionary intergalactic philosophy centered on a startling proposition about the relationship between language and reality, his unique “Alter Destiny” theory of personal identity, and his mix of Egyptian and space-age iconography – all part of his “Myth-Science” approach to African-American history.

In 1956, together with his manager and business partner Alton Abraham, Ra formed one of the first musician-owned record labels on the planet. El Saturn Records (which also assumed the name Thoth International and was sometimes shortened to Saturn) was based in Chicago during Ra’s tenure in the city, which ended in 1961 with his move to New York. The label continued to issue records and promote Sun Ra’s career, serving as his home base until (and somewhat after) Sun Ra’s final move to Philadelphia in the late ’60s. Dozens of records were produced under the auspices of El Saturn, many of them manufactured locally, with hand-produced covers. A few of the LPs featured covers designed by Sun Ra himself; others sported images by an amateur graphic designer named Claude Dangerfield, as well as other artists. These designs and artworks were the focal point of the exhibition Pathways To Unknown Worlds, which debuted at the Hyde Park Art Center in 2006 and toured to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia and the Durham Art Guild in North Carolina.

This collection of original El Saturn artifacts includes many of the working parts from the LPs of the 1960s and early 1970s as well as promotional materials dating back to the 1950s. They all come directly from the final El Saturn Records Chicago headquarters, which was dismantled in 2000.

Original print multiples naturally include minor variations from one imprint to another, so you should expect anything purchased to be slightly different from the image on the site. Feel free to contact Corbett vs. Dempsey with any questions.