Sponsored by Big Apple Jazz Tours: The music fans' favorite way to see NYC
 

FULLER UP
HOME
GRIM REAPER
PAGE
CAUSES OF
DEATH
SEARCH BY
NAME
GET IN
TOUCH
SHAMEFUL
DISCLAIMER
 
Fuller Up, The Dead Musician Directory


Barrett Deems

Pneumonia
Sept 15, 1998

Age 85

OBITUARY 
BIOGRAPHY  
LINKS
 
 
 
 

OBITUARY 
  
 Armstrong: Deems "makes coffee nervous."  
 
 

     Barrett Deems, 1913-1998  

Chicago -- and the jazz world across the globe -- lost a legendary friend September 15.  Drummer Barrett Deems, who seemed intent on pounding his way "into that good night," died Tuesday at Columbus Grant Hospital of pneumonia; he was 85 years old.

Born in Springfield, Illinois in 1913, Deems hit the touring scene at the young age of 17, playing with some of the world's finest jazz acts. Deems manned the kit for such luminaries as Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and others. The drummer's rapid-fire style and unyielding energy distinguished his long career. Louis Armstrong was once quoted as saying of Deems style that he "makes coffee nervous."

The always good-natured Deems continued playing his weekly gigs around town right up 'til the end. In a 1995 interview with IE, he told then Associate Editor Gwen Ihnat that he had no interest in stopping his rigorous schedule. "I am still playing because I live for it. I might retire when I get to be 100."

Though his musical journey has ended, his playful style and indefatigable energy will continue to inspire young drummers everywhere. 
 

Illinoise Entertainer
 
OBITUARY
BIOGRAPHY
LINKS TOP
 
 
 
 
 

 

BIOGRAPHY

Barrett Deems

    (b. 1 March 1914, Springfield, IL).  

    Throughout the '30s Deems worked with Paul Ash and led his own small bands. Towards the end of the decade he worked extensively with Joe Venuti, an association which took him to the mid-40s. There-after, Deems played in bands led by Red Norvo, Charlie Barnet and Muggsy Spanier. Billed as the World's Fastest Drummer, Deems had an eccentric on-stage personality which was captured on film during a solo-feature in RHYTHM INN (1951). 

    In 1954 he joined Louis Armstrong's All Stars, touring several countries and again appearing on film, this time in a feature, HIGH SOCIETY, and the Ed Morrow television documentary SATCHMO THE GREAT (BOTH 1956). In the '60s he worked with Jack Teagarden and the Dukes Of Dixieland before settling in Chicago where he played in clubs, often backing visiting jazzmen. 

    In 1976 he toured with Benny Goodman, and in the '80s worked with Wild Bill Davison and as a member of Keith Smith's package celebrating the music of Louis Armstrong.  At this time Deems’ eccentricity was enhanced by his wild, bearded appearance and his off-stage volubility. He referred to himself as the oldest teenager in the business and ruined countless recorded interviews with his irreverent and frequently unbroadcastable wit. 

    Despite the flamboyance of his appearance and self-billing, Deems played with a powerful attack and his spell with Armstrong included the album of  W.C. Handy tunes, which proved to be a classic of the leader's later work. 

 
OBITUARY
BIOGRAPHY
LINKS TOP
 
 
 
 

 LINKS
  

Sponsored by Big Apple Jazz Tours: The music fans' favorite way to see NYC

 
 
OBITUARY
BIOGRAPHY
LINKS TOP
 
 
 
 
 
FULLER UP
HOME
GRIM REAPER
PAGE
CAUSES OF
DEATH
SEARCH BY
NAME
GET IN
TOUCH
SHAMEFUL
DISCLAIMER
 
 
 
TOP