Incorporated ancient Egyptian and sci-fi motifs into his Arkestra. He was innovative with the addition of chants and eerie sounds.
He was composing original piano works by the age of 12. By his teenage years, he could impress friends and relatives by transcribing the music of big bands entirely from memory after seeing them once.
He claimed to be an alien from another planet, and he dressed on stage in a sequined hat and a jacket embroidered with planets. He improvised the tempo and key of his music.
He was born Herman "Sonny" Blount in Birmingham, Alabama, his name coming from a popular vaudeville performer.
His musical style, especially on piano, was similar to that of another jazz iconoclast, Thelonious Monk.