William John Evans (better known as Bill Evans) (August 16, 1929 â€“ September 15, 1980) was one of the most famous and influential American jazz pianists of the 20th century. His use of impressionist harmony, inventive interpretation of traditional jazz repertoire, and trademark rhythmically independent, "singing" melodic lines influenced a generation of pianists, including Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Don Friedman, Denny Zeitlin, and Keith Jarrett, as well as as guitarists Lenny Breau and Pat Metheny. The music of Bill Evans continues to inspire younger pianists like Fred Hersch, Bill Charlap, Geoffrey Keezer, Lyle Mays, Eliane Elias and arguably Brad Mehldau, early in his career.
Evans is an inductee of the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame.
Bill Evans was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, to a mother of Rusyn ancestry and a father of Welsh descent. His father was an alcoholic. Young Bill Evans received his first musical training at his mother's church.
His mother was an amateur pianist with an interest in modern classical composers; this led to Evans' initial musical training in classical piano at age six. He also became proficient at the flute by age 13 and could play the violin. Evans was left-handed, which could explain the rich low end in his sound.