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GEORGE CROCKETT

by Derek Copland

George Crockett

George Crockett in the 1980s

© Photo courtesy of Derek Copland

It was back in Edinburgh in the 1940s when Sandy Brown started recording with his band. Most of the first early recordings were private acetates and not until 1949 were the first S&M recordings issued commercially. For those initial 1946 and 1947 acetates George Crockett was the band's drummer, Dave Mylne taking a session in 1948 before Willie Burns took up the sticks for the S&M recordings.

Derek Copland remembers the young man with the drums:

I got to know George Crockett around 1969 when he was working as a journalist for the local paper in Kilmarnock in Scotland. George was a distant relation and despite the age difference we became good friends and spent many hours listening to music and going to gigs.

George introduced me to jazz and gave me an appreciation of many different styles. George’s heart was always in American music. He always said that his all-time favourite band was Bob Crosby and the Bobcats and his dream was to hear them play in the Rainbow Room. I don’t think that particular dream came true but later in life he corresponded with Bob and went on to meet him in the States.

George had a great musical knowledge and after he retired he presented a jazz show on local radio. He could be opinionated and funny – Miles Davis was the 'Idi Amin of Jazz' and he could never resist calling Carla Bley, 'Clara Bow'. Once when his old friend Scott played a really modern piece, George said that there was ‘something wrong with the turntable’.

George started his working life in newspapers and went on to work for the Daily Express in Fleet Street. Working for a top selling daily newspaper in those days was a well paid position but on a whim George resigned and went to Germany to play drums. I don’t know much about this time in his life but do know he played with many musicians and was quite successful.

By the sixties and seventies George was back playing drums in Edinburgh. He may have had his own band during this period but when I knew him he was playing percussion with the Jim Baikie Band. Jim was an accomplished guitarist and his band was popular on the Edinburgh circuit. I would sometimes drive the minibus to gigs outside of town which was an exciting and enlightening experience for one so young! After the gig it was back to Jim’s house in Morningside for drinks and jazz records till the early morning.

George was a great drummer who was happy playing most types of music. But when the band was playing ‘his music’ he could be brilliant – driving the beat with a great style that was all his own. Although George often talked about the early days with the ‘cats’, I don’t really remember much. I know he was friends with Archie Semple but I think he lost touch with a lot of people.

When George went back home to Ayr he stayed with his mother and sister in the family home in St Leonards Road. He spent his time playing Scottish Country dance on the local scene and walking his dog. George’s mother and aunt both died within a very short period. This affected George badly and we saw very little of each other during this time. George died after a short illness in the early nineties.

George was an inspiration. He taught me the rudiments of playing drums and I’ve still got the scores he wrote out for me. He also introduced me to many types of jazz and gave me a real vision of what he saw as ‘cool’ in life and in music.

 

© Derek Copland and Sandy Brown Jazz 2009-2015

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