Lynn Hope (born July 26, 1926, in Birmingham, Alabama – died February 24, 1993, in Collingswood, New Jersey) was an American jazz and R&B tenor saxophonist, known for his soulful and emotive playing style. A prominent figure in the post-World War II rhythm and blues scene, he played a significant role in the development of R&B saxophone styles. Hope was also a devout follower of Islam, which influenced his stage presence and personal life.
Born as Elmer Lynnwood Hope, he grew up in a family of musicians, with his father being a bassist and his mother a pianist. Despite the musical environment, Lynn initially pursued a career in professional baseball, but an injury cut his athletic aspirations short. It was then that he decided to focus on music, taking up the tenor saxophone, which would ultimately bring him success and recognition.
Early in his career, Hope joined the band of trumpeter and bandleader King Kolax, where he honed his skills as a performer. In 1945, he formed his own band, which quickly gained attention for its mix of jazz, blues, and R&B. Embracing his Islamic faith, Hope adopted the name El Hajj Abdullah Rasheed, performing in exotic turbans and colorful outfits that set him apart from other musicians of the time.
As a recording artist, Lynn Hope’s signature sound incorporated wailing saxophone lines and a strong sense of rhythm that were well-suited to the burgeoning R&B scene. He had several hit records in the late 1940s and 1950s, including “Tenderly,” “Blue Moon,” and “Blow, Lynn, Blow.” His music was popular in African American communities and enjoyed some crossover success with white audiences as well.
Throughout his career, Hope performed with numerous top musicians of his era, including stars like Louis Jordan, Wynonie Harris, and Billie Holiday. Despite his success, Hope struggled with drug addiction, which ultimately affected his career and personal life. By the late 1950s, his popularity waned, and he eventually retired from music in the early 1960s.
Lynn Hope passed away in 1993 at the age of 71, leaving behind a legacy of innovative saxophone playing and memorable performances. As a pivotal figure in the development of R&B saxophone styles and an artist who embraced his Islamic faith, his influence can still be felt today in the work of countless musicians who have followed in his footsteps.
Page last updated 3/19/2023.