For those fortunate enough to have grown up somewhere between 1965 and 1991, whose parents allowed them to stay up until 11:30 at least to hear the famous downbeat to Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, drummer Ed Shaughnessy had to have had a profound impact on their drumming aspirations. No doubt that he and Ringo Starr were the two most visual drummers during the ‘60s and ‘70s, Ringo with the biggest group to hit the world, and Shaughnessy who came into every household five nights a week, sometimes in reruns on the weekends.
For those who woefully never saw that show and may not even know who Shaughnessy is—or maybe not even Johnny Carson—both are worth checking out on YouTube. Start first with this story, revealing Shaughnessy’s amazing jazz and bebop background prior to the Carson show where he played with everyone from Count Basie to Jimi Hendrix, and then do yourself a favor and Google the legendary Carson Show drum battles between Buddy Rich and Shaughnessy.
On the personal side, Eddie was one of the kindest people I have ever known. He always had time for anyone with a question. Later in his life, we became best of friends and he asked me to co-author his autobiography, Lucky Drummer, From NYC Jazz to Johnny Carson. It was a great honor, and recently Rob Wallis at Hudson Music republished it in digital form as it was out of print.