Kenny Malone, Premier Drummer for High Nashville Names, Dies at 83

Kenny Malone, Premier Drummer for High Nashville Names, Dies at 83

NASHVILLE — Kenny Malone, a prolific Nashville session drummer whose skittering snare rhythms haunted Dolly Parton’s No. 1 nation hit “Jolene” in 1973 and whose cocktail-jazz groove anchored Crystal Gayle’s crossover smash “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” in 1977, died at a hospital right here on Thursday. He was 83.

A pal and collaborator, Dave Pomeroy, mentioned the trigger was Covid-19.

A flexible and imaginative percussionist, Mr. Malone performed on recordings by scores of nation, people, pop and rock artists, together with John Prine and Charley Satisfaction (each of whom additionally died of issues of Covid-19 in the course of the pandemic) in addition to Alison Krauss, Man Clark, Kenny Rogers, Ray Charles, Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings and Bela Fleck, amongst many others.

His impeccably timed cymbal work and rimshots notably propelled Dobie Grey’s “Drift Away,” a High 10 pop hit in 1973. And the stylistic attain he commanded was spectacular, from the down-home atmospherics of Ms. Parton’s “Jolene” to the countrypolitan sophistication of Ms. Gayle’s “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.”

“I want versatility and the chance to play many various kinds,” Mr. Malone mentioned in a 1985 interview with Fashionable Drummer journal. “In recording, if I’m not cautious, I begin to really feel stale, or I really feel that there isn’t a lot room for growth and development.”

On two events, he mentioned, he briefly stopped doing session work and performed solely dwell with a jazz quartet. (With Mr. Pomeroy, a bassist, he later established the quintet Tone Patrol, a revered Nashville ensemble that combined jazz and world music.)

To maintain his method recent when he returned to the studio for good, Mr. Malone immersed himself in portray and started working not more than two recording classes a day, versus the same old three or 4.

He additionally devised a Conga-derived hand-drumming approach and invented a clay drum referred to as an “og” and a hand-held shaker consisting of metallic and wooden.

One thing of a mystic, Mr. Malone heard music in all places, and exulted in it. “Music is in the whole lot, not simply the devices we play,” he informed Fashionable Drummer. “The way in which that chords, melody and rhythm work collectively mirrors our feelings. Every little thing we hear types a visible picture or an perspective of a spot, a time or an setting.”

In a biography of Mr. Malone for, the musician Eugene Chadbourne elaborated on this philosophy, writing, “He’s the drummer who, upon listening to {that a} music’s lyrics described a girl slitting a person’s throat, informed the producer to hold powerful a second whereas he fetched a special cymbal from his van, one which had simply the appropriate ‘scream’ for the job.”

Kenneth Morton Malone was born on Aug. 4, 1938, in Denver. His dad and mom, Harry and Minnie (Springstun) Malone, owned a flower store.

Mr. Malone began taking part in the drums at age 5. “The day I made a decision I needed to be a drummer was the day I heard Dixieland music,” he mentioned in “Rhythm Makers: The Drumming Legends of Nashville in Their Personal Phrases” (2005), by Tony Artimisi. “I feel it was the Firehouse 5 again in, like, 1943. My mother and pop received me a drum for Christmas. That began the whole lot.”

4 years later he was taking part in with a marching band sponsored by the police division and turning into acquainted with jazz and classical music.

“My first idol was Gene Krupa,” he mentioned in “Rhythm Makers.” “I noticed Gene Krupa and Buddy Wealthy do a drum battle in Denver with Jazz on the Philharmonic with Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz and all these great gamers. I used to be simply hooked ceaselessly.”

Mr. Malone enlisted within the Navy at 17 and toured with bands there, ultimately turning into director of the percussion division of the Naval College of Music in Virginia Seashore, Va.

He spent 14 years within the Navy earlier than deciding to maneuver to Nashville together with his household in 1970 to make a go of it as a studio musician. His first recording session was with the rockabilly pioneer Carl Perkins.

Mr. Malone married Corena Quillen, who is named Janie, in 1958. Along with her, he’s survived by two daughters, Teresa Wealthy and Karen Powers; a sister, Jeanette Scarpello; 5 grandsons; 4 granddaughters; and plenty of great-grandchildren. (One other daughter, Laura Pugh, died in 2009, and a son, Kenneth Jr., died in 2018.)

His musical presents however, Mr. Malone at first needed to regulate to Nashville’s recording strategies.

“I used to be again there taking part in away, and the producer mentioned, ‘What within the hell are you doing?’” he informed Fashionable Drummer. “I didn’t know you would overdub, so I used to be taking part in all of it directly — tambourines, you title it. I actually needed to come down to 1 hand and one foot. I needed to unlearn the whole lot so far as technical stuff. There was a complete completely different really feel in recording.”

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