Known for his legendary temper earning him the nickname "The Angry Man of Jazz." Mingus vented his frustration over racial injustice through public protest and occasionally musically. A great example being his brilliant "Fables of Faubus", a biting satire of sorts about the racist Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus.
He died in 1979 at age 56 of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease.
If you're just getting into Mingus, I highly recommend his classic 1959 album Mingus Ah Um. It's not only one of my favorite jazz albums but his most accessible work.
Jose Contreras: Agreed, he's a more interesting composer. And what a fascinating motherfucker too.