Hi! My name is Eddie Everett and I would love to share my story with you. For some, this might bring back fond memories of what it felt like when you found your true path to drumming. For others, this might be a preview of what’s coming down the pike. In either case, evolution is involved. Here’s the story of mine.
I was raised on a steady diet of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Frank Sinatra, just to name a few. I loved this music. It made me feel something. However, the true spark that kindled my drum interest came at the tender age of fourteen when my mother took me to see Harry Bellefonte. I sure liked the music but I really loved the reaction his music had on the ladies. I heard this voice in my head say, “Now this is what I want to do!” I wanted to be a musician. Stage One of my evolution was realized.
I was interested, yet undecided, about what instrument would be right for me. Playing the guitar didn’t seem to fit. It felt uncomfortable. Was there any other instrument that could rattle my bones? Suddenly I realized that both of my of my older brothers were drummers. So I grabbed a pair of drumsticks and “BOO-YA!!” Instant joy! Right then and there I realized that I was meant to be a drummer. Stage Two of my evolution was forged.
Man, I started to listen and play to everything I could get “my ears” on! Sonny Payne, Ringo Starr, John Bonham, Stewart Copeland and those funky Motown Drummers (Benny Benjamin, Uriel Jones and Pistol Allen) were all on heavy rotation. These were my early heroes.
Things changed for me in 1982 when The Stray Cats put a record out called Built For Speed. I heard the track “Rock This Town” and noticed something special about the sound of this song. The drums were bright, swinging and in your face. The upright bass thumped and pushed the music down the track. And the guitar playing? It was twangy, jazzy and simply fabulous! This was roots and rockabilly music. And I had found it! Stage Three of my evolution was set in stone.
I dug deeper and found there were more roots and rockabilly bands out there. Bands like The Blasters, The Polecats and Los Lobos became my new mentors. There were also some local acts around me that were playing roots music. The Bullets happened to be one of those bands. These guys were putting their own spin on this great style of music. As it turned out, they were auditioning drummers at the time. I took my 19 year old self down for a crack at it. Before I knew it, I was playing about twenty-five gigs a month with them! Ah 1984. That was the year that my professional drumming career had begun. Stage Four of my evolution was kicking into gear.
Over the years I have had the good fortune of playing with many incredible rockabilly and roots artists. And although I enjoyed playing with these bands, I started getting tired of the whole scene. The players had to have vintage gear. They also had to have their retro look “just right.” Plus, all the musicians started playing all of the same covers. Folsom Prison Blues, Red Hot, 20 Flight Rock… STOP IT ALREADY!!!! I found it funny that the bands in this wild and rebellious musical style were all conforming to the same blue jeans, hairstyle and music! For me, Stage Six of my evolution was a painful awakening that something needed to change in my life.
Just as I was getting ready to scream about how lame I felt the scene was, I saw The Gas House Gorillas at a bar in my neighborhood. And that was that. I was hooked on them big time! These guys were different from all the other roots/rockabilly bands that I had previously heard. They had old school R&B influences borrowed from the likes of Tiny Bradshaw, Louis Jordan and The Treniers. But they delivered this music like a punk rock band. They weren’t trying to dress vintage or be cool. The members of the Gas House Gorillas were just trying to be themselves. I found myself becoming a fan, then a sub and finally a full–on band member! Stage Five of my evolution made me feel like I was getting a second shot at music.
Now joining The Gas House Gorillas was no walk in the park. At my first show in 2010 with those guys I did the best I could. But two things were apparent. First, I was out of breath. This band played hard and they played fast! Second, this music demanded that I get my shuffle together. So I searched for a teacher who could help me get my game on with the Gorillas!
Lo and behold, I started to study with the great Daniel Glass, one of the authors of The Commandments of Early Rhythm and Blues Drumming. This book is the shuffle bible and Daniel is a master at it. His teaching had a profound impact on my drumming. Stage Six of my evolution was one giant leap for this member of mankind.
Since joining The Gas House Gorillas, it has become obvious that the chemistry is undeniable. I’ve never played before or since with a band where everything was such a perfect fit. I was made for this band and they were made for me. Stage Seven of my evolution has identified who I am and who I was meant to be in the musical world.
Is my evolution over? No way! I still feel like I’m growing. How about you? Get started on your musical evolution. Who knows where it will take you? No matter where you end up, I’ve got a good feeling it’ll eventually be some place that’s right for you.
About Eddie Everett
Eddie Everett is one of Philadelphia’s hottest retro/ swing drummers. He’s played with artists such as Brian Setzer, Wanda Jackson, David Bromberg, Tommy Conwell and the Rockats. Today he holds down the drum throne for The Gas House Gorillas, a leading force in the retro/punk/swing movement. Beside touring and recording, Eddie teaches, performs clinics and is a proud member of the Vic Firth Education Team. In addition, Mr. Everett conducts interviews with some of Philly’s most profound drummers on his Eddie Everett’s Academy of Sweet Beats Facebook page.
For more information about Eddie Everett and his exploits, visit him at https://www.facebook.com/AcademyOfSweetBeats?fref=ts.