It was a tradition that every Sunday evening my mothers and fathers brothers and sisters and their spouses used to come for supper and my dad would play all the popular songs of the day and everyone would congregate around the grand piano and sing along. My mom and dad had 9 brothers and sisters each so I was very fortunate to have 87 first cousins.
I started getting excited about jazz when, as a boy of 12 I was taken by a friends older brother to the “Navigators Den” where the best jazz musicians of the day played every Saturday night.The pianist turned around and looked at me and told me he had a gig for me the following week. I was 13 years old.
I told my dad that I wanted to play drums and he bought me a snare drum and brushes and told me that if I practice rudiments and sat and played whilst listening to records he’d buy me the rest of the kit.
I used to sneak out of my home on Saturdays and find anyone to give me a lift to the club and one night I was allowed inside (as I always stood at the window outside). The drummer was so drunk he fell off his stool and the band carried on playing. I stood behind the kit and just played cymbal. The pianist turned around and looked at me and told me he had a gig for me the following week.
I was 13 years old. I got a present of a full drum kit and did the gig and as they say, the rest is history.