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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

My Dad ....The Other Drummin' Man


                                          Dad with Snare Drum and Hi-Hat in back garden

My Dad loved music - he especially loved musicians- being  a Drummer- as explained in the intro to this post. If you want to get an idea of how much he loved Drumming listen to this....

He loved enthusiasm....for anything - he said it was the one characteristic he loved and he had no patience for anyone who wasn't ! He also had no time for talent shows and never watched them ; saying you needed to get out there and work !
He had some wonderful tales ..... waking up in a posh house and not knowing where he was ( being served breakfast by a butler!)  his biggest worry being where his drum kit was  - he'd stored it in a locker in New Street Train Station.... chatting up a pretty bridesmaid at a wedding only to have her mother sharply tell him off ( she was 15!!)
Dad with his brother ,Dennis, on Guitar

And don't get me started on Tommy Webster ....every Brummie Drummers Hero....
Comment #752....My Dad was present when Tommy took Jack Parnell down , showing him how to play Louie Bellson' Skin Deep at The West End Ballroom .....
In 1954  he travelled to Ireland to see Gene Krupa et al in Norman Grantz Jazz at The Philharmonic Concert
''My record collection came to visit me!'' He never forgot the sight of the projected shadow on a white screen  of Gene Krupa drumming '' It was like it had been at the Pictures !''
Gene Krupa was his hero - the showman - we had an ongoing windup throughout his latter years - I loved the Drumming Man LPs ( its where I discovered Anita O Day)  I would intermittently say ''I'll have those LPs if you've finished with them '' he would grin'' No you bloody won't!''..... he cried when Gene died in 1973.
Traditionally the bride is usually on the grooms left - consequently for many years Nan owned a framed photo of her and Dad - causing much hilarity throughout the family!

In 1958 he met and fell in love with my Mom - she thought he was a miserable bugger at first; what she learnt sometime later was that the taxman had caught up with him and he was working as a Bakery Storeman at Lewis' Ltd  in the day then gigging at the evenings to pay off his Tax bill! He was, to use his own words 'knackered'
They bonded over Ella Fitzgerald- Mom had a copy of 'April in Paris' - he was impressed!
The very first concert he took my Mom to see was Ella - their seats were separated by a column and Mom was  sat right by the brass section - my Dad was in heaven ; Mom ....well she saw the funny side of it years later, but at the time she was quietly seething. I came along in 1959 and my sister Ann in 1961  He gave up gigging  ....plus the music scene had changed to Rock and  Roll .
Dad with me and Sister,Ann xxx

In 1976 , with my first months wages , I bought tickets to see Buddy Rich - little did I understand the Jazz/Drumming audience! I have never sat in audience since that the seating literally bounced in time to the music - nor have I sat through a 10 minute drum solo (or at least that's how long it felt!) Amazing!! I had tried to venture into his world- I had 6 drum lessons  before we gave up the ghost - Dad sat in on every one '' He's a ballroom drummer' he said sadly one day , We both knew it wasn't meant to be ; but thanks Dad xxxx
        Dads heroes: Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa ( he also rated Cozy Powell and Karen Carpenter!!)

When we went to the Theatre his favourite part was the orchestra warming up - he loved it!!
He practiced every day with a set of sticks and either a small drum pad or a pile of catalogues , he drove us all mad by constantly tapping out rhythms on chairs, tables , floors and basically anything he could lay his hands on - he even bought an electric drum kit at one point ( he was in his 70's) but sold it on as he said it wasn't the same......
Sometime afterwards  when he'd tried to pick up a mug it had slipped from his grasp .....He went to see his GP followed by some tests (we only knew a few weeks later in conversation- the old bugger!)  He'd probably had a stroke in his sleep and there was no treatment needed but it had weakened his left hand and he couldn't grasp a drumstick anymore .....
I visited him regularly and unearthed Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich clips from YouTube - it was our connection .Even in the throes of Dementia I could still make a connection ( he loved this clip !) - till the final months ....
                                                          Love this photo of Dad and me!

Here's something I've omitted ....My Dad had Nystagmus ( his eyes moved independently) he started his life in a School for The Blind till he thought''F#ck that -I want more!''
My Dads parents with his brother's daughter,Eileen

His Dad ridiculed him ‘It’s not a real job and you’ll never earn enough to live on' ' He taught himself to memorise music ( He actually could read music just not fast) plus he sold a few arrangements as well ( much to his surprise)
One of his greatest achievements was telling his Dad that he earned more from one gig than his Dad did in a week as a Postman !!

                                                   Dad with his favourite cuddly toy

It would seem that the drumming gene (no pun intended!) has skipped a few generations as Fab Grandson George is in the throes of rhythm and has been for a while - Dad ,thankfully, saw the beginnings of this - he ( and my sister) bought George his first toy drumkit several years ago ........

My Grandson ,George, giving it some stick!

My Dad was an Atheist , he requested no funeral ('' No-one will come - they're all dead!'')
Had there been a funeral then - upon walking in there would have been Intermission Riff playing -he liked the idea of everyone trying to walk in time to it! .....then when the coffin went on its way there would have been 2001 Space Odyssey playing ( he loved NASA - their site was his opening page on his computer for a while , till Mom passed then Ray Charles took over ) Finally at the end Louis would have sang .....
He always said he wanted to go to Hell ,if it existed , as that's where all the Rock'n'Rollers  would be!


* My sister, Ann, self published Dads reminiscences last year ( in his own words - unedited)




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