I started playing drums in my senior year at Cheltenham
(PA) High School in 1953. Two of
our snare drummers quit, and the band director asked for two volunteers to carry
snare drums so that our small marching band would look like we had a section.
I put away my clarinet and, with no training, started to play in the
marching band. During the next year, I took a few lessons, and then formed a
band including: Byron Prusky on Alto Sax, Mel Fishman on Piano, Mickey Perkins
on Guitar , and the late Jim 'Duke' McCullough on Bass.
We played private parties, college gigs etc., but always with a jazz
Later, as the group started to scatter when some of us were
drafted or enlisted in the enlisted in the Army, and some us left to attend
schools out of town, the personnel of the band would vary from time to time.
However, Duke and I generally played together, and players such as Howard
Silverman or Jules Seder on piano, Larry Schwartz and later Dr. Donald
Brown on Tenor Sax, Congas and Vocals, began to front the group.
Working with Duke, I had the privilege and pleasure of backing up other
premiere musicians such as Sonny Bernstein (Piano), Vince Trombetta
(Tenor Sax), Stan 'The Man' Maltz (Trumpet & Vocals), Bernard Pieffer
(Piano), and other great local musicians.
I took lessons from Jules Benner and later took lessons for
a short time with Sammy Anflick (a/k/a Sonny Ellis) while earning my degree from
Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science. Then the army draft ended things for me for a couple of
years. After my stint in the Army
was up, I started playing with Duke – and later Tom Mignona - on bass and we
played with Jules Seder (Piano), Ted Jones (Trumpet & Vocals), and the other
horn players with whom I worked before going into the Army.
One of the finest horn players I had the pleasure to backup before my
Army service was Larry McKenna. That
was the last gig I played before I left for the Army, and Larry left to join
Finally, with no drums in the house for over 30 years, the best percussionist in our family, Jon Ball, talked me into playing again at 23rd Street.
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