Among the friends of Eddie Locke who took part in his memorial service in Manhattan on November 22 was bassist and author Bill Crow. Locke, a stalwart drummer based in New York for more than five decades, died last September at the age of 79. Bill prepared this report for Rifftides.
At St. Peter’s Church, a lot of good music was played by a lot of Eddie’s friends, including Warren Vache, Richard Wyands, Jackie Williams, Murray Wall, Mike LeDonne, Paul West, Louis Hayes, Bill Easley, Lodi Carr, Tardo Hammer, Michael Weiss, Leroy Williams, Cathy Healy, Larry Ham, Jon Gordon, Bill Charlap, Sean Smith, Rossano Sportiello, Adam Nussbaum, Marty Napoleon, Ray Mosca, Ray Drummond, Barry Harris, Barry’s choir of angels and your correspondent. Eddie’s friend Bill Easley, his two sons, Edward Jr. and Jeffrey, and his companion, Mary Ellen Healy, gave eulogies.
Eddie was one of several remarkable Detroit jazz musicians who made careers in New York. He and Oliver Jackson developed a variety act in Detroit called “Bop and Locke,” in which both drummers also sang and danced. They were booked into the Apollo Theatre in 1954, and took that opportunity to move to New York City, where Eddie met and was mentored by “Papa” Jo Jones.
Eddie began working at the Metropole, and in 1958 he joined Roy Eldridge’s band. He played with Eldridge and with Coleman Hawkins through the 1960s, until Hawkins’ death in 1969. During the 1970s he went into Jimmy Ryan’s club on West 54th Street, and was the house drummer there until the club closed in the early 1980s.
I got to know Eddie through the cornet player Dick Sudhalter. Eddie and I were in Dick’s rhythm section on many concerts and club dates. When Dick moved to the North Fork of Long Island and began playing concerts and jazz festivals there, I often picked Eddie up in Manhattan and we drove out to the jobs together. I enjoyed the stories he would tell me on those long rides, and I always enjoyed playing with him when we got there.
Eddie was also a teacher, much loved by his students. He taught music at the Trevor Day School in New York City, and also had private students. He was a great believer in the importance of passing on the lore and knowledge he had received from his elders to the next generation of jazz musicians.
The Rifftides staff thanks Mr. Crow.
For video of Eddie Locke in performance, see this earlier Rifftides posting.