Famous Percussionists in Music History

Birthdays in Music

  • 1911-10-07 (Jonathon) "Jo" Jones, American jazz drummer, and percussionist (Count Basie), born in Chicago, Illinois (d. 1985)
  • 1913-04-24 Violet Archer [Balestreri], Canadian percussionist, composer, teacher, and organist, and percussionist, born in Montréal Quebec (d. 2000)
  • 1917-02-07 Milton "Milt" Holland, American drummer, percussionist, ethnomusicologist (film Tinkerbell's tinkle, Bewitched's nose tinkle), born in Chicago, Illinois (d. 2005)
  • 1920-06-11 Shelly Manne, American 'West Coast' jazz and session drummer, percussionist, composer, and bandleader, born in New York City (d. 1984)
  • 1921-04-22 Cándido Camero, Cuban American percussionist (congo drum) and bandleader, born in Havana, Cuba (d. 2020) [1]
  • 1922-04-07 Ramón "Mongo" Santamaría, Cuban percussionist (Afro Blue), born in Havana (d. 2003)
  • 1922-06-05 Gordon "Specs" Powell, American jazz and studio drummer and percussionist (CBS Orchestra, 1943-72), born in New York City (d. 2007)
  • 1923-09-06 William Kraft, American composer and percussionist, born in Chicago, Illinois
  • 1924-05-30 Armando Peraza, Cuban jazz, Latin jazz, and rock percussionist (George Shearing; Cal Tjader; Santana, 1972-90), born in Lawton Batista, Havana, Cuba (d. 2014) [birth year disputed]
  • 1927-04-07 Babatunde Olatunji, Nigerian percussionist (Drums of Passion), educator, and social activist, born in Ajido, Lagos (d. 2003)
  • 1929-04-29 Ray Barretto, American percussionist and Latin jazz bandleader (Charanga Moderna - "El Watusi"), born in New York City (d. 2006)
  • 1929-11-02 Harold Farberman, American percussionist, conductor, and composer (Medea), born in NYC, New York (d. 2018)
  • 1931-06-07 (Nii Moi) "Speedy" Acquaye, Ghanaian drummer, percussionist and fire-eater (Tubby Hayes; Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames; Ginger Baker's Airforce), born in Accra, Gold Coast (now Ghana) (d. 1993)
  • 1931-07-18 "Papa" Dee Allen, American percussionist (War - "Cisco Kid"; "The World Is A Ghetto"), born in Wilmington, Delaware (d. 1988)
  • 1933-02-05 Ron Wilson, US percussionist (Joy of Cooking)
  • 1934-02-28 Willie Bobo [Correa], American jazz percussionist (Evil Ways), born in NYC, New York (d. 1983)
  • 1936-05-15 Jean Balissat, Swiss composer pedagogue and conductor (Kaleidoscope for trumpet and percussion), born in Lausanne, Switzerland (d. 2007)
  • 1938-03-04 Angus MacLise, American percussionist, mystic, shaman, and composer (Velvet Underground), born in Bridgeport, Connecticut (d. 1979)
  • 1939-06-08 Laurence Cook, American jazz drummer, percussionist, and avant garde composer, born in Boston, Massachusetts
  • 1939-08-09 Max Neuhaus, American classical musician and experimental percussionist (sound sculptures), born in Beaumont, Texas (d. 2009)
  • 1940-01-06 Laudir de Oliveira, Brazilian percussionist (Chicago), born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (d. 2017)
  • 1941-04-30 Joseph "Coke" Escovedo, Mexican-American percussionist (Santana; Malo; Azteca), born in Los Angeles, California (d. 1986)
  • 1941-06-04 George Jinda, Hungarian-American smooth jazz and world music percussionist (Special EFX), born in Budapest, Hungary (d. 2002)
  • 1941-08-19 Milford Graves, American avant-garde andfree jazz drummer, percussionist (New York Art Quartet), and educator (Bennington College, Vermont, 1973-2012), born in Jamaica, Queens, New York (d. 2021) [1]
  • 1944-02-13 Rebop Kwaku Baah, Ghanaian percussionist, born in Konongo, Ghana (d. 1983)
  • 1944-03-10 David Friedman, American jazz and session percussionist, vibraphone and marimba player (Double Image), born in New York City
  • 1944-03-15 Ralph MacDonald, Trinbagonian-American jazz and R&B percussionist and songwriter ("Just the Two of Us"; "Where Is The Love"), born in Harlem, New York City (d. 2011)
  • 1944-05-12 Orestes Vilató, Cuban-American percussionist and timbalero, born in Camagüey, Cuba
  • 1946-05-23 Famoudou Don Moye, American jazz percussionist and drummer (Art Ensemble of Chicago), born in Rochester, New York
  • 1946-07-25 José Areas, Nicaraguan percussionist (Santana, 1969-77, 1987-89), born in Leon, Nicaragua
  • 1947-03-15 Stomu Yamash'ta, Japanese percussionist, keyboard player and traditional Japanese-progressive rock fusion composer (Go), born in Kyoto, Japan
  • 1947-03-22 Patrick Olive, Grenadian percussionist (Hot Chocolate - "You Sexy Thing"), born in Grenada
  • 1947-04-10 Bunny Wailer [Neville O'Riley Livingston], Jamaican vocalist and percussionist (The Wailers with Bob Marley), born in Kingston, Jamaica (d. 2021)
  • 1947-06-03 Mickey Finn, British rock percussionist (T. Rex), born in Thornton Heath, Surrey, England (d. 2003)
  • 1947-06-17 Paul Young, British rock singer and percussionist (Mike + The Mechanics - "All I Need Is A Miracle"), born in Manchester, England (d. 2000)
  • 1947-08-15 Geraldo "Jerry" Velez, American drummer and percussionist (Jimi Hendrix; Spyro Gyra-Morning Dance), born in The Bronx, New York City
  • 1947-09-02 Richard Coughlan, English drummer and percussionist (Caravan), (d. 2013)
  • 1947-09-11 Gerry Conway, British drummer and percussionist (Cat Stevens; Fairport Convention), born in King's Lynn, Norfolk, England.
  • 1947-09-19 Ray Cooper, British percussionist (Elton John; Eric Clapton; George Harrison), born in Watford, Hertfordshire, England
  • 1947-11-18 Michael Carabello, American percussionist and songwriter (Santana, 1968-71), born in San Francisco, California
  • 1948-05-31 Paulinho da Costa, Brazilian percussionist (Thriller; Saturday Night Fever), born in Rio de Janeiro
  • 1948-06-06 Phil Jones, American session and touring drummer and percussionist (Tom Petty; Cracker; Pegi Young), born in Oskaloosa, Iowa
  • 1948-06-27 Bill Summers, American jazz, fusion, and Afro-Cuban jazz percussionist and conguero (Herbie Hancock's Headhunters; Sonny Rollins; Quincy Jones), born in Detroit, Michigan
  • 1948-10-10 Cyril Neville, American singer and percussionist (Neville Brothers), born in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • 1948-12-11 Chester Thompson, American session and touring drummer and percussionist (Frank Zappa; Genesis; Chester Thompson Trio), born in Baltimore, Maryland
  • 1949-01-13 Frank Ricotti, British jazz and session vibraphonist and percussionist, born in London, England
  • 1949-05-02 Joey Phillips, percussionist (Atlantic Starr - "Touch a Four-Leaf Clover")
  • 1949-07-06 Michael Shrieve, American drummer, percussionist, and composer (Santana), born in San Francisco, California
  • 1950-06-17 Nicky Marrero, American percussionist and timbalero (Eddie Palmieri; Fania All Stars; Típica 73!), born in South Bronx, New York City
  • 1951-04-05 Everett Morton, Nevisian-born English drummer and percussionist (English Beat), born in Saint Kitts, West Indies
  • 1951-06-28 David “Frankie” Toler, American drummer and percussionist (Allman Brothers), born in Connersville, Indiana, USA), (d. 2011)
  • 1952-03-27 Rocky Maffit, American percussionist (Champaign)
  • 1952-05-31 Karl Bartos, German electronic percussionist, and composer (Kraftwerk, 1975-90; Electric Music), born in Berchtesgaden, West Germany
  • 1952-10-23 Pierre Moerlen, French rock-jazz fusion drummer and percussionist (Gong: Mike Oldfield), born in Colmar, France (d. 2005)
  • 1953-01-29 Louie F. Pérez, Jr., American lyricist, percussionist, guitarist, and jarana player (Los Lobos - "Will The Wolf Survive?"), born in Los Angeles, California
  • 1953-04-20 Ollie Brown, American session and touring drummer and percussionist (Billy Preston; Ray Parker, Jr.), born in Detroit, Michigan
  • 1953-11-11 Kahil El'Zabar [Clifton Blackburn], American jazz percussionist, born in Chicago, Illinois
  • 1954-04-01 Jeff Porcaro, American drummer/percussionist (Toto - "Roxanna"; "Africa"), born in Los Angeles, California
  • 1954-06-10 Raul Rekow, American percussionist and conguero (Santana, 1976-2013), born in San Francisco, California (d. 2015)
  • 1954-10-20 Günter Müller, German sound artist, improvisor and percussionist
  • 1955-05-12 Bashiri Johnson, American session and touring percussionist (Whitney Houston; Micheal Jackson), and educator, born in Brooklyn, New York
  • 1956-03-17 Will Rigby, rock percussionist (Amy Rigby Diary of a Mad Housewife)
  • 1956-03-20 Alphonso Martin, British reggae percussionist and vocalist (Steel Pulse, 1977-91 - "Prodigal Son"), born in Birmingham, England
  • 1957-02-28 Phil Gould, British rock drummer and percussionist (Level 42 - "Something About You"), born in Hong Kong
  • 1957-12-12 Sheila E.[scovedo], American singer, drummer and percussionist (Krush Grove, Holly Rock), born in Oakland, California
  • 1958-01-26 Norman Hassan, British reggae percussionist, and trombone player (UB40 - "Red Red Wine"; "I Got You Babe"), born in Birmingham, England
  • 1958-02-13 Marc Fox, British percussionist (Haircut 100-Nobody's Fool)
  • 1962-10-20 Steven R "Randy" Jackson, US percussionist/singer (Enjoy Yourself)
  • 1963-06-01 Shawn Pelton is an American session and touring drummer and percussionist (SNL band; Sheryl Crow; Shawn Colvin: Darryl Hall, Rod Stewart; Roseann Cash), born in Kansas City, Missouri
  • 1964-04-18 Bez [Mark Berry], English percussionist and dancer (Happy Mondays), born in Bolton, Lancashire
  • 1964-06-10 Gary Wallis, British session and touring drummer, percussionist, and musical director (Pink Floyd; 10cc; Il Divo; Mike + The Mechanics; Tom Jones; Jean-Michel Jarre; and Schiller), born in Westminster, London, England
  • 1965-07-19 Evelyn Glennie, Scottish marimba player, percussionist, and bagpiper, born in Methlick, Aberdeenshire Scotland
  • 1967-08-27 Bob Nastanovich, American percussionist (Pavement, Silver Jews), born in Rochester, New York
  • 1967-09-13 Stephen Perkins, American drummer and percussionist (Jane's Addiction), born in Los Angeles, California
  • 1968-02-29 Gareth Farr, New Zealand percussionist, and composer (From the Depths Sound the Great Sea Gongs; Chemin des Dames), born in Wellington, New Zealand
  • 1969-04-30 Joey Restivo, American pop-rock percussionist (Linear - "Sending All My Love"), born in Brooklyn, New York
  • 1973-02-24 Chris Fehn, American percussionist (Slipknot)
  • 1975-02-19 Daniel Adair, Canadian drummer and percussionist (Nickelback; 3 Doors Down), born in Vancouver, British Columbia
  • 1976-09-27 Dean Butterworth, British drummer and percussionist (Morrissey; Good Charlotte), born in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, England
  • 1979-05-05 Bodek Janke, Polish jazz drummers, percussionist, and tabla player, born in Warsaw Poland
  • 1979-06-11 Texito Langa, Mozambican jazz drummer-percussionist, composer, and arranger, born in Maputo, Mozambique
  • 1989-05-29 Sanah Kadoura, Lebanese-Canadian jazz drummer and percussionist, born in Calgary, Alberta

Deaths in Music

  • 1979-06-21 Angus Maclise, American percussionist, mystic, shaman, and composer (Velvet Underground), dies of hypoglycemia and pulmonary tuberculosis at 41
  • 1983-01-12 Rebop Kwaku Baah, Nigerian percussionist (b. 1944)
  • 1983-09-15 Willie Bobo [Correa], American jazz percussionist (Evil Ways), dies of cancer at 49
  • 1984-09-26 Shelly Manne, American 'West Coast' jazz and session drummer, percussionist, composer, and bandleader, dies of a heart attack at 64
  • 1985-09-03 (Jonathon) "Jo" Jones, American jazz drummer, and percussionist (Count Basie), dies of pneumonia at 73
  • 1986-07-13 Joseph "Coke" Escovedo, Mexican-American percussionist (Santana; Malo; Azteca), dies from cirrhosis at 45
  • 1993-09-15 (Nii Moi) "Speedy" Acquaye, Ghanaian drummer, percussionist and fire-eater (Tubby Hayes; Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames; Ginger Baker's Airforce), dies of cancer at 62
  • 1999-05-19 James Blades, British classical percussionist, and educator, dies at 97
  • 2000-02-21 Violet Archer [Balestreri], Canadian percussionist, composer, teacher, and organist, and percussionist, dies at 86
  • 2002-01-11 George Jinda, Hungarian-American smooth jazz and world music percussionist (Special EFX), dies from multiple medical condition complications at 41
  • 2003-02-01 Mongo Santamaria, Cuban percussionist & band leader, dies at 85
  • 2003-04-06 Babatunde Olatunji, Nigerian percussionist (Drums of Passion), educator, and social activist, dies at 75
  • 2005-05-03 Pierre Moerlen, French rock-jazz fusion drummer and percussionist (Gong; Mike Oldfield), dies at 52
  • 2005-11-04 Milton "Milt" Holland, American drummer, percussionist, ethnomusicologist (film Tinkerbell's tinkle, Bewitched's nose tinkle), dies at 88
  • 2006-02-17 Ray Barretto, American percussionist and Latin jazz bandleader (Charanga Moderna - "El Watusi"), dies at 76
  • 2007-08-16 Max Roach, American percussionist, drummer, and composer (b. 1924)
  • 2007-09-15 Gordon "Specs" Powell, American jazz and studio drummer and percussionist (Red Norvo; Teddy Wilson; CBS Orchestra, 1943-72), dies of kidney disease at 85
  • 2007-09-16 Jean Balissat, Swiss composer pedagogue and conductor (Kaleidoscope for trumpet and percussion), dies at 71
  • 2009-02-03 Max Neuhaus, American classical musician and experimental percussionist (sound sculptures), dies of cancer at 69
  • 2011-06-04 David “Frankie” Toler, American drummer and percussionist (Allman Brothers), dies at 59 [1]
  • 2011-11-22 Paul Motian, American jazz drummer, percussionist and composer, dies at 80
  • 2011-12-18 Ralph MacDonald, American rock percussionist and songwriter (Just the Two of Us), dies of cancer at 67
  • 2014-04-14 Armando Peraza, Cuban jazz, Latin jazz, and rock percussionist (George Shearing; Cal Tjader; Santana, 1972-90), dies at about 89 [birth year disputed]
  • 2015-11-02 Raul Rekow, American percussionist and conguero (Santana, 1976-2013), dies of cancer at 61
  • 2017-09-17 Laudir de Oliveira, Brazilian percussionist (Chicago), died on stage of a heart attack at 77
  • 2018-11-24 Harold Farberman, American percussionist, conductor, and composer (Medea), dies at 89
  • 2020-11-07 Cándido Camero, Cuban American percussionist (congo drum) and bandleader, dies at 99 [1]
  • 2021-02-12 Milford Graves, American avant-garde and free jazz drummer, percussionist (New York Art Quartet), and educator (Bennington College, Vermont, 1973-2012), dies of heart failure at 79 [1]
  • 2021-03-02 Bunny Wailer [Neville O'Riley Livingston], Jamaican vocalist and percussionist (The Wailers with Bob Marley), dies of stroke complications at 73