Rahsaan Roland Kirk (American, 1935-1977)

Kirk was a musician active in the 1960s and 70s known for his ability to play multiple instruments simultaneously. Becoming blind at age two, Kirk would go on to teach himself how to play the bugle, trumpet, and clarinet before the age of 12. He began playing professionally in his teens. Along with being a talented musician, Kirk also was a political activist, known for his interjections on stage. He also inserted comedy into his stage presence, touring as the opening act for Jay Leno. Kirk looked most to classical influences, and while he worked with legends like Charles Mingus and Quincy Jones, he often preferred working alone. In 1975, Kirk suffered a stroke that left one side of his body paralyzed, but he continued to play music and developed specific instruments he could play with one arm. He inspired Björk, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, and many other genre-bending pop performers.