Earl Palmer
October 25, 1924 - September 19, 2008
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© colored by Mike Creasy







Earl Palmer:
Earl Palmer was the first-call drummer on the New Orleans R&B recording scene from 1950 to 1957. Talk about a supreme recommendation -- in a city renowned for its second-line rhythms and syncopated grooves, Palmer was the man, playing on countless sessions by all the immortals: Little Richard, Fats Domino, Smiley Lewis, Dave Bartholomew, and too many more to list here.

Born to a mother who was a vaudevillian, little Earl was learning rhythmic patterns as a tap dancer at age four. Such contacts led him to be around drum kits on a regular basis, and it didn't take him long to master them. Bebop jazz was his first love, but R&B and blues paid the bills starting in 1947, when Palmer joined Bartholomew's band.

Palmer remained the king of the traps at Cosimo Matassa's fabled recording studio until 1957, when a Shirley & Lee session led to an A&R offer from Aladdin Records boss Eddie Mesner. Palmer found studio work just as plentiful in Los Angeles, making major inroads into the rock, jazz, and soundtrack fields as well as playing on countless R&B dates with his frequent compadres Rene Hall on guitar and saxist Plas Johnson. Occasionally, Palmer would record as a leader -- the instrumental "Johnny's House Party" for Aladdin, a couple of early-'60s albums for Liberty.

But even the best session men grapple with a certain sense of anonymity. So the next time you pull out Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti," Smiley Lewis's "I Hear You Knockin'," Lloyd Price's "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," or Fats Domino's "The Fat Man," please keep in mind that it's Palmer feverishly stoking that beat -- with a saucy second-line sensibility that drove those songs in fresh, utterly innovative directions.




























NAMM 2004
© http://www.drumsontheweb.com/
Anton Fig - Earl Palmer








Herlin Riley - Earl Palmer

© afp.noteworks.com
















performed with:

Eddie Cochran
Fats Domino 
Pat Boone
Arthur Adams 
Lee Allen 
Johnny Almond 
Ernie Andrews 
David Axelrod 
B. Bumble & the Stingers 
Dave Bartholomew 
The Beach Boys 
Earl Bostic 
Teresa Brewer 
Roy Brown
Charles Brown
Tim Buckley 
Henry Cain
Michael Edward Campbell
Ray Charles 
David Clayton-Thomas 
Rosemary Clooney
Buddy Collette
Sam Cooke
Priscilla Coolidge 
Elvis Costello 
Dick Dale 
Doris Day 
Neil Diamond 
The Dillards 
Floyd Dixon 
Don & Dewey 
The Easy Riders 
Duane Eddy 
Harry "Sweets" Edison
Gene Estes
The Everly Brothers 
Phil Everly 
The 5th Dimension 
Ernie Freeman & His Combo
Dizzy Gillespie 
Tim Hardin 
Screamin' Jay Hawkins 
Lightnin' Hopkins 
Jim Horn 
Jan & Dean 
Carol Kaye 
Sarah Kernochan 
King Pleasure 
B.B. King 
Peggy Lee 
Smiley Lewis
Little Feat 
Little Richard
Nellie Lutcher 
Jimmie Maddin 
Taj Mahal 
The Mamas & the Papas 
Harvey Mandel 
Teena Marie 
Percy Mayfield 
Buddy Merrill 
Amos Milburn 
Bobby Mitchell 
The Monkees 
Maria Muldaur 
Michael Murphey 
Rick Nelson 
Michael Nesmith 
Art Neville 
Nanci Nevins 
Randy Newman 
Johnny Otis 
Fess Parker 
Van Dyke Parks 
Joe Pass 
The Platters 
Dory Previn 
Lloyd Price 
Professor Longhair 
Alton Purnell 
Bonnie Raitt 
Lou Rawls 
The Righteous Brothers 
The Rip Chords
Howard Roberts 
Andy Robinson
Chan Romero 
Diana Ross 
Freddie Roulette 
Maxine Sellers 
Gilbert Shelton 
Shirley & Lee 
Frank Sinatra 
Nancy Sinatra 
Huey "Piano" Smith
Phil Spector 
The Spiders 
Splinter 
Jimmy Stewart 
Barbra Streisand 
Gene Summers 
Roosevelt Sykes 
Johnnie Taylor 
Tongue & Groove
Big Joe Turner 
Tina Turner
Gary Usher 
Bobby Vee 
Eric Von Schmidt 
Tom Waits
T-Bone Walker 
Dinah Washington 
Larry Williams 
Paul Williams 
Jimmy Witherspoon 
Sheb Wooley 
Jim Gordon
Vincent DeRosa
Red Callender
Frank Fields
David Axelrod
Barney Kessel
Victor Feldman
Buddy Collette

...and many more







































For the first time in paperback: The story of the legendary drummer whose beat created modern rock and roll.

There he is, drumming on "Tutti Frutti," "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," and thousands of other songs. As a studio player in New Orleans and Los Angeles from the 1940s through the 1970s, Earl Palmer co-created hundreds of hits and transformed the lope of rhythm and blues into full-tilt rock and roll, and was one of the first session men to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Palmer's distinctive voice alternates with the insights of music journalist and historian Tony Scherman in an unforgettable trip through the social and musical cultures of mid-century black New Orleans and the feverish world of early rock.











Earl Palmer - Steve Smith






Carol Kaye - Joe Porcaro - Earl Palmer




























...from Earl Palmer's daughter Shelly
Dear Bernhard,
Your site is AWESOME!  My Dad is a drummer listed on your site, Earl Palmer and I can't believe what an incredible job you've done.  It's nice to know there are people out there with the same passion for music as we have. 

You are a credit to the human race.  God bless you!
Shelly Palmer 
Earl Palmer