Zawinul, who earned global recognition for his keyboard work with Miles Davis in the 1960s, helped create the sound known as jazz fusion.
The award-winning musician emigrated to the United States in 1959 and played with Maynard Ferguson and Dinah Washington before joining alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley in 1961 for nine years.
With Adderley, Zawinul wrote several songs, including the hit, "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," a biography on Zawinul's official Web site noted.
After releasing his debut solo album on Atlantic in 1970, Zawinul and saxophonist Wayne Shorter assembled the jazz group, Weather Report, which incorporated elements of rock and R&B into their jazz music.
Although members came and went, Weather Report put out 18 albums, including "Black Market" and "Heavy Weather," which featured Zawinul’s song, "Birdland."
Versions of that song by Weather Report, Manhattan Transfer and Quincy Jones, won separate Grammy awards in three successive decades.
Weather Report also won a Grammy for its live album, "8:30" in 1979.
After the band broke up, Zawinul went on to form the bands Weather Update and the Zawinul Syndicate, whose albums "My People" and "World Tour" were also nominated for Grammy awards in the 1990s.