Certainly dozens of musicians—perhaps hundreds—passed through Sun Ra’s bands over the years. Some stayed with him for decades, while others made only a few recordings or performances.
Sun Ra was personally responsible for the vast majority of the constant changes in the Arkestra’s lineup. According to contrabassist Jiunie Booth, himself a member of the Arkestra, Sun Ra would not confront any musician whose performance he was unsatisfied with. Instead, Sun Ra would simply gather the entire Arkestra minus the offending musician, and skip town, leaving the fired musician stranded. After repeated instances of US jazz musicians becoming stranded in foreign countries, Sun Ra’s unique method of dismissal became a diplomatic liability for the United States. The U.S. State Department was compelled to tell Sun Ra to bring any fired musicians stateside rather than leaving them stranded.
The following is a partial list of musical collaborators and the eras in which they played with Sun Ra and/or the Arkestra: