Legendary Drummer Philip Paul Passed Away At 96

Legendary Drummer Philip Paul Passed Away At 96 | Society Of Rock Videos

via WCPO 9 / Youtube

Philip Paul, the drummer who played on the original recordings of classic tracks such as “The Twist,” “Fever,” and “Please Come Home for Christmas,” has died January 30 at the age of 96.

Tom Schneider, pianist for The Philip Paul Trio, confirmed the death of Paul on Sunday night due to COVID-19.

Paul helped make jazz what it is today. He continued to play the drums long after performing with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie at Cincinnati’s Cotton Club or The Apollo in New York City. On his 95th birthday, he celebrated with a performance at the Symphony Hotel and Restaurant.

Born and raised Harlem, New York in 1925, Paul came from a family of musicians. His father and uncles played together in an Afro-Caribbean jazz band. Paul said his parents rented drums for him after his father noticed his habit of drumming on random items.

The drummer shared decades later:

“My father was a musician too. We’d go to the music store to get something he might need, and I’d have spoons, knives, forks and pick up anything that I could bang on the tables and play,”

In 1951, Paul moved to Cincinnati, where he made a name for himself as the city’s go-to session drummer. Then from 1952 to 1965, he served as the studio drummer for King Records, playing on more than 350 recordings. During those times, Paul worked with a wide range of jazz, blues, country and R&B artists, including Hank Ballard, Milt Buckner, Freddie King, Grandpa Jones, Cowboy Copas and Bonnie Lou.

Ballard released the first recording of “The Twist” which was later made famous by Chubby Checker. It was Paul who gave the original version of drums.

“‘The Twist’ really changed the way people danced in this country. Up until then, people danced together. They held each other, danced together. But when I came up with the beat to ‘The Twist,’ people started dancing apart.”

The drummer later recalled.

In 2009, Paul was honored at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of their series “From Songwriters to Soundmen: The People Behind the Hits.” In 2016, the celebrated drummer was inducted into the Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame.

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