Even though New Orleans is internationally known as the home of jazz, Earl Palmer gave it rock 'n' roll. He performed with some of the greatest names in music history including Fats Domino, Ike and Tina Turner, Little Richard, Frank Sinatra, Sam Cooke, Nat King Cole, the Beach Boys, Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, Willie Nelson, the Everly Brothers and the Supremes. He was described as a professor of music and he moved smoothly from Motown to movies, classical to jazz, and every genre in-between.
When Palmer passed last Friday in Los Angeles, he left a legacy of musical work that is difficult to match that will keep his spirit alive for unborn music generations to come.
According to Cosimo Matassa, a sound engineer who worked with Palmer, "Earl had a melodic sense of the bass line. He didn't just do rhythm; he played the bottom end of the tune. It fit hand in glove with what was going on," Matassa added, "He used his knowledge and craft, his understanding of what drums could do."
Noel Foucher remembered growing up in New Orleans and being inspired to want to pursue a career in music. Though he chose sports instead, Foucher knew Palmer's children and shared some of his fond memories about Palmer, "I used to enjoy listening to Earl playing the drums and it was so inspiring that at one point, I wanted to be a jazz drummer like him. When he left New Orleans, I followed his career and always knew where he was and what he was doing in the music world. He was a great drummer and the music world and myself will miss him dearly."
A New Orleans native, Palmer grew up in Treme, entering show business as a young boy as a tap dancer with his mother and aunt on the Black vaudeville circuit. As a legendary drummer, he brought music to both cities–New Orleans and Los Angeles–with major stops in between. After a stint in the military, Palmer returned to hometown where he developed his musical prowess on the drums. He moved to Los Angeles where he excelled among the vast array of musical talent throughout the city.
In 1999 Tony Scherman did a book about Palmer, "Backbeat," as a project for the National Endowment for the Humanities; it described the fullness of Palmer's effect on the music world and how he moved from New Orleans, across the United States to rest in Los Angeles. Throughout his life, Palmer would always pay tribute to those in the music world and as a fulfillment of his life's work, the music world will now pay tribute to him.
There will be a viewing of the body on Sunday, September 28, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Angelus Funeral Home, 3875 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles. The funeral services will take place on September 29 at the same location.