Last of the great Big Band drummers

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ERIC DELANEY, one of the last of the big band drummers who shot to fame during the40/50’s era, passed away last Thursday aged 87.

According to reports, when he failed to attend a jazz festival in Wigan, his contact was notified and after a brief search Eric was found dead in his apartment. He had evidentially peacefully passed away in his sleep.

His professional career spanned over 70 years during which he was honoured by the musical establishment with a Lifetime of Achievement Award by the Percussive Arts Society at the Royal College of Music (in 1995), the Gold Badge of Merit from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (1997) and in 1999 he was awarded the Freedom of the City of London.

Eric became extremely fond of the Costa Blanca and when spent as much time as possible at his Albir apartment.

He became a well respected member of the Benidorm music scene and was frequently seen at local jazz gigs and concerts. Geoff Britten, former tour drummer with Paul McCartney’s “Wings” now living on the Costa, told the EWN he was devastated by the news of this great mans death. “To me, it’s the end of an era. Eric was my early idol. One of my fondest memories will be when a few years back; I joined him on stage in Alfaz del Pi to perform the Louis Bellson drum classic, “Skin Deep.” It was such an emotionally driving experience, I didn’t surface for days – in fact I am still shell-shocked today. A great and lovely man and a huge loss to the world of jazz.”

Eric was born 22nd May 1924 in Acton London. At the age of 16, he won the Best Swing Drummer award and later joined top bands including Bert Ambrose and Geraldo. He eventually formed his own orchestra and went on to become one of the most sought after bands in the UK recording many hits on the Pye label including, “Cockles and Mussels” and “Oranges and Lemons. Apart from the big band drums, Eric was also a talented multi-percussionist, mastering the xylophone, glockenspiel, timpani, military side drum, tubular bells, a variety of Chinese gongs and tam tams, instruments he incorporated over the years into his shows. He also appeared in three Royal Variety Performances.

Eric Delaney’s biographer Eddie Sammons, posted the following on a local tribute web site.” It is a sad day indeed for me. I had the privilege of writing Eric’s biography but more than that, we shared a friendship and a love of jazz and swing. The world had a lost a great musician and a loveable character. I am not alone in thinking; this marks the end of an era.”

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