Kenny Malone, Premier Drummer for Top 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 good friend and collaborator, Dave Pomeroy, mentioned the trigger was Covid-19.

A flexible and imaginative percussionist, Mr. Malone performed on recordings by scores of nation, folks, pop and rock artists, together with John Prine and Charley Pride (each of whom additionally died of problems of Covid-19 through 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 significantly propelled Dobie Gray’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 would like versatility and the chance to play many various kinds,” Mr. Malone mentioned in a 1985 interview with Trendy 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 progress.”

On two events, he mentioned, he briefly stopped doing session work and performed solely stay 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 periods a day, versus the standard 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 every part, not simply the devices we play,” he advised Trendy Drummer. “The best way that chords, melody and rhythm work collectively mirrors our feelings. Every part we hear varieties a visible picture or an angle 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, advised the producer to hold powerful a second whereas he fetched a distinct cymbal from his van, one which had simply the correct ‘scream’ for the job.”

Kenneth Morton Malone was born on Aug. 4, 1938, in Denver. His mother and father, 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 wished 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 pa obtained me a drum for Christmas. That began every part.”

4 years later he was taking part in with a marching band sponsored by the police division and changing into familiar 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 fantastic gamers. I used to be simply hooked without end.”

Mr. Malone enlisted within the Navy at 17 and toured with bands there, finally changing into director of the percussion division of the Naval Faculty 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 modify 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 advised Trendy Drummer. “I didn’t know you possibly can overdub, so I used to be taking part in all of it without delay — tambourines, you title it. I actually needed to come down to at least one hand and one foot. I needed to unlearn every part so far as technical stuff. There was a complete totally different really feel in recording.”

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