EDDIE LOCKE (1930-2009)

The great players of a certain generation are leaving us in body, although what remains in sound and memory will outlive us all.  I remember Eddie Locke as one of the anchors of Roy Eldridge’s band at Jimmy Ryan’s, at various concerts and gigs across New York City — cheerful, energetic, musically attuned, a disciple of the Master, Papa Jo Jones.  And what better tribute could he have had then to be chosen by Coleman Hawkins for the rhythm section?  

Like Ruby Braff, Eddie should — if art is measured by the calendar — have been a vigorous bopper, playing alongside Clifford Brown rather than Willie the Lion Smith.  But he followed that four-beat rhythm he had heard in the Forties.  It sustained him and he sustained every group he played with.   

Eddie will be missed!  But photographer John Herr caught a beaming Eddie in June 2008: a treasure.

Photograph by John Herr, June 2008

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7 responses to “EDDIE LOCKE (1930-2009)

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  3. Does anyone know of a memorial service for Eddie Locke?

  4. I had the good fortune to play some gigs with Eddie
    Locke at the Village Vanguard and also a concert at the UN back in the late 80’s. It was the Buddy Tate Quintet at the time with Me and Buddy on Tenor sax, Arvell Shaw or Jamil Nasser on Bass, John Roberts on piano and Eddie on drums. Eddie looked at me when I walked onto the band stand and said “What are you doing here, kid?”
    After we played the first set, Eddie turned to me and said “Kid, you’re alright!” It was on of the best compliments ever coming from the man who had played with Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge etc. Thanks Eddie for keeping the time for so long!
    Nat Simpkins

  5. MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR EDDIE LOCKE

    7pm
    Sunday
    November 22, 2009

    St. Peter’s Church
    619 Lexington Avenue at 54th Street
    NY, NY
    212-935-2200
    http://www.saintpeters.org/

    Please help spread the word so we can fill that space to celebrate Eddie’s life and spirit.

  6. I just received one of Eddie’s copies of John S. Wilson’s NYTimes article of June 5th 1985.
    Eddie was a PIONEER!
    Here’s the entire article:
    ……………
    A Young Jazz Drummer And Teacher Are Honored

    Two significant “firsts” for jazz will occur this month. A young jazz drummer, Justin Page, is one of 20 high school students to be chosen as Presidential Scholars in the Arts–the first jazz musician to win this designation since the program began in 1980. Mr. Page, who is 17 years old and is studying music at the High School of Performing Arts, will receive a Presidential Medallion from President Reagan in a White House ceremony on June 20.

    Mr. Page’s selection has also resulted in the designation of his teacher, Eddie Locke, as a Distinguished Teacher, for which he will receive a Certificate of Excellence in a ceremony at Georgetown University on June 19. It’s the first time a jazz teacher has been singled out for the honor.

    Mr. Locke played drums in groups led by saxophonist Coleman Hawkins and the trumpeter Roy Eldridge in the 1960’s, and was the house drummer at Jimmy Ryan’s for the better part of 15 years before the 54th Street Jazz Club closed a year and a half ago. He began teaching Mr. Page when the student was 8 years old.

    “He walked into my little studio with a tape,” Mr. Locke recalled, “and I said, ‘Well, you want to be a drummer.’ And he said, ‘I want to be a big band drummer.’ So I put him on the right track. I taught him about the old drummers. He’s a modern drummer now but he knows about Gene Krupa and Jo Jones and Sid Catlett. That’s what separates him from a lot of young drummers. He’s got the modern thing but he’s got the foundation in his head about where it came from.

    “He’s a better musician than I am,” Mr. Locke continued. And when this was greeted with a questioning glance, he insisted, “Oh, yes. He’s a better musician–but I taught him to play the play the drums.”

  7. After many years, I started to play drums again. Denying in the music in me was part of all kinds of downfalls in my life at the time. The entire time, I assumed that I was the biggest disappointment of Eddie’s life.

    We spoke for the first time in almost 20 years ago. He seemed happy to hear from me but he said he was sick and told me to call him when he was “feeling better.”

    That was the last time we ever spoke.

    I still don’t think I am or was “a better musician” than Eddie (as the Times article quotes him), and Eddie’s influence on my early playing is undeniable.

    I miss him terribly. I wish I could have a moment with him to explain certain things.

    One of those things is that I have returned to a life in music…and that his memory still keeps my bar raised very high, and I both love and fear what I can still hear Eddie saying about playing something one way versus another. As loving as he was, he could be lovingly brutal as a teacher. I used to run home to my dad (also passed) in tears after many lessons when I was unprepared.

    I will love you, forever, Eddie. Thanks for everything.

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