“We took some cheap wine, 35 cents a bottle, ‘Death Valley’, ‘Thunderbird’ shit, and we cooked it, we heated it up, and we took some nutmeg, a spoonful of nutmeg and then we smoked some J… And I played and I played and I played (nobody complained in those days!), and then I lay on the bed and – this is still clear in my mind – I was so smashed that I began to levitate and honest to God I saw SID CATLETT standing there, and he was like smiling, and I was looking at Sid Catlett and I was tripping and he… dissolved right inside me. I swear today, I’ll never forget that. (Pause) And I fell boom back on the bed. I got back on the drums and I was playing, man! And three years later I was playing with Cecil. Six years and I was playing with John. I went up like that in drums, man… I still believe that’s still some part of my success, that the spirit of this man has been… not haunting but, part of me. I find now Catlett’s spirit is one of the most liberating in music. It’s one of those burning bush experiences for me.”
This tale just appeared online on a site devoted to all varieties of percussion, http://www.tomtomtime.com/2008/11/sunny-murray-tells-a-story.html
I hope they don’t mind my reprinting it here: everyone should have such inspiring visions, although perhaps not by beginning with Thunderbird? But welcoming the dead, asking them to live through us — who would disapprove of that?