Drummer Earl Palmer — an inventive and influential New Orleans veteran who relocated to Southern California in the mid 1950s — died in Los Angeles on Sept. 19 at the age of 84.
A session man on recordings of such shuffly rock ’n’ roll classics as Fats Domino’s “I’m Walkin,’” Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally,” Eddie Cochran’s “Somethin’ Else,” and Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba,” Palmer provided the swing, syncopation, and downbeats that inspired generations of drummers in the R&B, soul, rock, and jazz world. According to his biography, Backbeat: Earl Palmer’s Story, by Tony Scherman (published in 1999), he “considered himself a jazz drummer who struck lucky.
There’s great photographic and video footage of Palmer on the web site www.DrummerWorld.com — the video clips show him executed a few signature rhythm patterns, including the beats to “I’m Walkin” and the rhumba-based beat for “The Tipitina.”
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