|Roy Harte - Drummist/Record Co. Founder||Gordo/Kae Rairdin||10/28/03 11:02 PM|
Roy Harte passed away this past Sunday, October 26, 2003, at St.
Josephs Hospital, Burbank, CA. Roy grew up with the swing bands of
the late 1930s and among his gigs he counted time with the bands of
Muggsy Spanier and Dizzy Gillespie while still in high school. In
the early 1940s Roy moved on and played drums with the orchestras of
Bobby Sherwood, George Paxton, Billie Rogers, Boyd Raeburn, Lucky
Millinder, Vido Musso, and the Stan Kenton All Stars. He also had a
short gig with Billie Holiday.
Roy is best remembered as the co-founder of Pacific Jazz Records with
Dick Bock in the summer of 1952, and later as co-founder of Nocturne
Records with Harry Babasin in the spring of 1954.
Roy was an active studio musician in Hollywood in the late 1940s and
early 1950s when he was known to keep a drum set at all of the major
recording studios where his drumming would provide the beat for
dozens of recording artists, among them: Ella Mae Morse, Kay Starr,
Georgia Carr, Helen O'Connell, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Hank Snow, Dave
Pell, Les Brown, and Stan Freberg.
Roy is best known for his jazz drumming with the Bud Shank / Laurindo
Almeida Quartet, and his backing of numerous groups on the Nocturne
label, most notably Bud Shank's first album as leader for Nocturne
playing the compositions of Shorty Rogers.
For many years Roy operated Drum City on Santa Monica Boulevard where
he provided drum instruction plus sales and repair for all of the
major drum manufacturers.
In addition to his busy schedule in the recording studios Roy found
time to tutor some famous personalities for the movie business. When
Sal Mineo was tapped to play Gene Krupa in the Hollywood production,
Roy was the drummer who coached Sal on the rudiments of drumming.
Likewise when Fred Astaire needed some instruction for a scene in
Daddy Long Legs, Hollywood turned to Roy for expert lessons.
In the spring of 1954 Roy held the first "Percussion Fair" at Drum
City which included a display of drums from the past to the present,
a collection of foreign drums, drum demonstrations, a Sound Effects
Department, and displays of the latest percussion instruments from
the leading manufacturers. The fair was a great success attracting
youngsters as well a cross section of amateur and professional
percussion enthusiasts. The fair would become an annual event that
continued to grow and build the national reputation of Drum City as
one of the nations leading drum retail and instruction centers.
In December of 1955 Roy entered the Ripley's BELIEVE IT OR NOT! Hall
of Fame after setting the world record for continuously playing a
drum for 57 hours.
The sixth Annual Percussion Fair drew throngs of retailers,
manufacturers, professional percussionists, as well as movie stars
and celebrities such as William Holden, Sal Mineo, Tommy Sands, Pat
Wymore (Mrs. Errol Flynn), Marlon Brando, and many others. During
the six weeks of the Fair (March 17 through April 30), the clinics
offered saw the participation of thirty-two public schools, ten
parochial schools, and eleven drum and bugle corps. Based on the
national attention that this Fair drew and the crowds of attendees at
Drum City, Roy made plans to accommodate 10,000 visitors at the
seventh annual Fair to be held the following year.
When the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958 Roy was
instrumental in organizing a welcome reception for the team which
included a full battery of percussionists led by Roy.
Jazz fell on some hard times in the sixties and later decades when
popular music of the day embraced rock-n-roll and other music. But
Roy and Harry continued to support Jazz in Hollywood through a
rebirth of their Nocturne label, and other jazz enterprises which
kept straight ahead jazz a priority.
In 1961 Roy and Harry Babasin established Jazz Chronicles to record
and promote jazz in Hollywood and continue some of the goals they set
with their original Nocturne label.