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The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 1

January 9th, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

Ricky Lawson Collection 1

When drummer Ricky Lawson died at the age of 59 just before Christmas, we lost one of those musicians whose work we have known, or even loved, but whose identity few have sought to establish “” the lot of many session musicians.

As this mix and a second volume will show, Lawson played on many great tracks. None was as popular and also widely despised as Whitney Houston”s version of “I Will Always Love You”. His single bass drum beat before Whitney launches into her hyperpyrotechnical wailing must rank as one of the most famous single drum beats in pop.

Lawson was born in Detroit in 1954. He was surrounded by music; his uncle, Paul Riser, was an arranger with Motown”s in-house band, the Funk Brothers. It was his uncle Paul who lent Ricky his first drum set. Ricky played in a school band and for an outfit called The Sons of Soul. His break came after being discovered by Stevie Wonder, through whom he landed a gig with Roy Ayers (he would drum for Stevie only many years later). This led to collaborations with another fusion great, George Duke, who also died in 2013.

ricky_lawsonHe played for and with many great musicians, many of whom feature on the two Ricky Lawson mixes. Among those who will not feature on these are Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Babyface, Earth Wind & Fire, Mariah Carey, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, India.Arie, Bette Midler, Harry Nilsson, Smokey Robinson, Patrice Rushen, Beyoncé, Dennis Edwards, Johnny Gill, Teena Maria, Rod Stewart, Toto, Regina Belle, George Benson, Patti Austin, Nancy Wilson, Aretha Franklin, Howard Hewitt, The Emotions, DeBarge, Rockwell (on “Somebody’s Watching Me”), Boney James, Tevin Campbell, Bobby Brown, Gladys Knight, The Winans, Ramsey Lewis, and Lionel Richie. If you caught Michael Jackson on his Bad tour, you will have seen Lawson behind the drums.

Lawson was also a co-founder of the jazz-fusion band The Yellowjackets, with whom he won a Grammy in 1987 for the song “And You Know That”, which he also co-wrote.

His final conscious moments were spent, suitably, behind the drums. He was performing on stage in LA on 13 December when he suddenly became disoriented as he suffered a brain aneurysm. He was kept on life-support for ten days; on 23 December it was switched off.

By every account, Ricky Lawson was a thoroughly nice guy, a widely-liked, humble model professional.

Lawson is the second drummer whose work I have anthologised; the first was Bernard Purdie (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2), and soon I plan to feature another great session drummer with a most remarkable story.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. Home-highhatted covers are included. PW in comments.
1. Sweet Cream – Pretty Little Black Boy (1978)
2. Al Jarreau – Teach Me Tonight (live, 1985)
3. Randy Crawford and Yellowjackets – Imagine (live, 1982)
4. Anita Baker – Soul Inspiration (1990)
5. Kevin Moore – Rainmaker (1980)
6. Phil Upchurch – When And If I Fall In Love (1982)
7. George Duke – Sugar Loaf Mountain (1979)
8. Flora Purim – Sarara (1979)
9. Maze feat Frankie Beverly – Back In Stride (1985)
10. Deniece Williams – Black Butterfly (1984)
11. Keith Washington – Kissing You (1991)
12. The Dramatics – It Ain’t Rainin’ (On Nobody’s House But Mine) (1980)
13. Sister Sledge – Smile (1983)
14. James Ingram – I Don’t Have The Heart (1989)
15. Michael McDonald – Ain`t No Mountain High Enough (2003)
16. France Gall – La minute de silence (1996)

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  1. halfhearteddude
    January 9th, 2014 at 07:53 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. Guy
    January 9th, 2014 at 13:50 | #2

    So much appriciated this mix. Thnk you!

  3. Dave
    January 10th, 2014 at 17:03 | #3

    I never knew about Ricky Lawson. Great compilation. Who could be next? Hal Blaine? Jim Keltner? Sandy Nelson? Jerry Marotta? Bring on the drummer series!!

  4. halfhearteddude
    January 11th, 2014 at 09:54 | #4

    I want to do a Blaine compilation; my next drummer is also a Wrecking Crew member (OK, that’s a give-away).

  5. johnnykoop
    January 16th, 2014 at 12:12 | #5

    thx, very interesting, this. Next up a Jerry Marotta would indeed be nice. or a steve gadd?

    keep up the good work!

  6. dogbreath
    January 23rd, 2014 at 17:10 | #6

    Your blog has helped to broaden my musical education & this tasty little mix is no exception as I would have had no idea about Ricky Lawson’s contributions to these songs. Thank you!

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