Josef Erich Zawinul 7 July 1932 – 11 September 2007) was an Austrian jazz and jazz fusion keyboardist and composer. First coming to prominence with saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, Zawinul went on to play with Miles Davis and to become one of the creators of jazz fusion, a musical genre that combined jazz with rock. He co-founded the groups Weather Report and The Zawinul Syndicate. He pioneered the use of electric piano and synthesizer, and was named “Best Electric Keyboardist” twenty-eight times by the readers of DownBeat magazine.
Zawinul grew up in Vienna, Austria. Accordion was his first instrument. When he was six or seven, he studied clarinet, violin, and piano at the Vienna Conservatory (Konservatorium Wien). During the 1950s he was a staff pianist for Polydor. He worked as a jazz musician with Hans Koller, Friedrich Gulda, Karl Drewo, and Fatty George. In 1959 he moved to the U.S. to attend Berklee College of Music, but a week later he received a job offer from Maynard Ferguson, so he left school and went on tour. He then accompanied Dinah Washington. He spent most of the 1960s with Cannonball Adderley.