RIP: Earl Palmer, legendary drummer

Earl Palmer, legendary drummer

I just found out that drummer Earl Palmer passed away this weekend. There’s a lot of musicians you call a “legend”, but Earl Palmer was of the guys that literally did it all. His list of credits was literally a who’s-who of musical history – Pat Boone, Tom Waits, The Beach Boys, Roy Brown, Charles Brown, Ray Charles, Rosemary Clooney, Priscilla Coolidge, Elvis Costello, The Everly Brothers, Dizzy Gillespie, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Jan & Dean, King Pleasure, B.B. King, Peggy Lee, Smiley Lewis, Little Feat, The Mamas & the Papas, Amos Milburn, The Monkees, Johnny Otis, The Platters, Lou Rawls, Diana Ross, Shirley & Lee, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand , Roosevelt Sykes, Big Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker, Dinah Washington, and many, many more.

I’m sure you’ve heard his work even if you didn’t know it – “The Fat Man” (Fats Domino, 1949), “Lawdy Miss Cawdy” (Lloyd Price, 1952), “Tipitina” (Professor Longhair, 1953), “Tutti Frutti” (Little Richard, 1955), “Blueberry Hill” (Fats Domino, 1956), “Long Tall Sally” (Little Richard, 1956), “Lucille” (Little Richard, 1957), “I’m Walkin’”(Fats Domino, 1957), “You Send Me” (Sam Cooke, 1957), “La Bamba” (Ritchie Valens, 1964), “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” (The Righteous Brothers, 1965), and a lot of others.

Earl Palmer even played with Richard Berry, author of LOUIE LOUIE. As I looked at the “Backbeat – World’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Drummer” CD assembled by my friends over at Ace Records, I see that Mr. Palmer played drums on Richard Berry’s “Mad About You” (1955) and “Dance With Me Henry” by Etta James (1958), where Richard played the part of “Henry.”

Earl Palmer even appeared in a music video with the band Cracker on the song “I hate my generation”. According to an article in Addicted to Noise, Cracker leader David Lowery asked Palmer was asked if he would be able to play along with the songs, and Palmer gave Lowery a funny look before replying “I invented this shit.”

Rest in peace, Mr. Palmer. You will not be forgotten.

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