Monday, September 22, 2008

Earl Palmer 1924-2008

Earl Palmer, by Ken Hively of the Los Angeles Times.


I have just learned that Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer and extraordinary talent of the 20th century, Earl Palmer, passed away on September 19th.

Some of the songs he played on--

Fats Domino: I’m Walkin, The Fat Man, Walkin to New Orleans
Little Richard: Tutti Frutti, Long Tall Sally
Lloyd Price: Lawdy Miss Clawdy
Ritchie Valens: La Bamba, Donna
Amos Milburn: Chicken Shack Boogie
Sam Cooke: You Send Me
Smiley Lewis: I Hear You Knockin, Shame Shame Shame
Jan and Dean: Dead Man's Curve, Little Old Lady from Pasadena

Palmer was also employed by Phil Spector for the bombastic Wall of Sound in the 1960s. He played on several of the Spector-era hits such as You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin by the Righteous Brothers.

Claire Noland writes in the LA Times:

Born in New Orleans on Oct. 25, 1924, Earl Cyril Palmer was tap-dancing by age 5 on the black vaudeville circuit, touring with his mother, a singer, in Ida Cox's jazz and blues revue. He didn't learn to play drums until after serving in Europe with the Army in World War II. He returned to New Orleans and attended the Gruenwald School of Music on the GI Bill. He studied piano and percussion and learned to read, compose and arrange music.

But his childhood experiences served him well, Palmer said years later.

"I had the advantage of knowing music before I played it," he told jazz writer Zan Stewart in 1993. "Being a dancer gave me an understanding of rhythmic 'time,' and you can't teach that."

After the war, Palmer also began playing drums with the Dave Bartholomew Band and the house band at Cosimo Matassa's J&M studio in New Orleans. Jazz, blues, R&B and country music were fusing into a new, distinct genre of music, with Fats Domino, Little Richard, Lloyd Price and Smiley Lewis the frontmen laying down tracks in the early 1950s for what would become known as the beginnings of rock 'n' roll.

"What we were playing on those early records was funky in relation to jazz," Palmer told The Times in 2000. "What we were playing already had that natural New Orleans flavor about the music. I played the bass drum how they played bass drum in funeral parade bands."

In 1957 Palmer moved to Los Angeles to work for Aladdin Records but quickly became a first-call session drummer.

Besides providing the driving backbeat on many rock 'n' roll tunes, Palmer can also be heard on recordings by jazz and pop stars Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan and Doris Day, as well as on the TV theme songs for "Mission: Impossible," "Green Acres" and "The Odd Couple," among others.
Also: Tribute to Earl Palmer.

Resquiat In Pace.


Earl Palmer - Walkin


JoJo said...

I'm not sure if I've heard of him before. The guy who wrote "Walkin to New Orleans" was a client at my office in the Bay Area (Bobby Charles...ever heard of him?), so I assume Bobby must've been acquainted w/ Earl, being a fellow New Orleanian.

Daisy said...

Jojo, I love ALL of those old songs! And now I'll think of him whenever I hear the "Odd Couple" TV theme song, too.