Sonny Payne
4 May 4, 1926 - January 29, 1979
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Zoro










Sonny Payne...
b. Percival Payne, 4 May 1926, New York City, New York, USA, d. 29 January 1979.
Payne began studying drums at an early age, encouraged by the fact that his father, Chris Columbus, was a jazz drummer. Payne's first jobs included spells with Oran ‘Hot Lips’ Page, Earl Bostic and Tiny Grimes. In 1950 he joined the Erskine Hawkins band, where he spent three years, then led his own band for a couple of years before joining Count Basie. He was with Basie for over 10 years, leaving to form his own small group and working as staff drummer for Frank Sinatra. In 1966 he began another long engagement with a big band, this time led by Harry James. In 1973 he was back with Basie, then played with amongst others Illinois Jacquet during the mid-70s. An aggressive, showman-drummer, Payne was an indifferent timekeeper but brought a sense of sustained excitement to any band in which he played. Even the Basie band, accustomed to such immaculate timekeepers as Jo Jones and Gus Johnson, was given a lift by Payne when he was at his best and, even when he was at his worst, audiences loved him.

Source: centrohd.com
Sonny Payne had the role of his lifetime as Count Basie's drummer. It was the perfect position for the hard-driving drummer and he fit in perfectly with pianist Basie and guitarist Freddie Green during the prime years of Count's second great band. The son of drummer Chris Columbus, Payne studied early on with Vic Berton and played locally. In 1944 he began a professional, playing with the Dud & Paul Bascomb band, Hot Lips Page, Earl Bostic (1945-47) and Tiny Grimes (off and on during 1947-50). Payne spent three years (1950-53) with the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra and led his own band for two years, but all of this was really a prelude to his main assignment. With Count Basie during 1955-65, Sonny Payne toured constantly, appeared on many classic recordings and defined the band's drum chair. After leaving in 1965, he briefly led a trio, worked with Frank Sinatra and then had a long stint with Harry James' Big Band (1966-73); James always did want his band to sound like Basie's! In his later years Sonny Payne had a short second period with Count (1973-74), toured Europe with Illinois Jacquet and also returned to James' orchestra shortly before his death. Sonny Payne never led a record date of his own but was on many Basie records, some by James plus a few combo dates.

Scott Yanow




This photo is from The Brill Family, Jim Brill is Sonny's godson."









This Picture comes from the archive of Adrian McCloskey (the stepson of Sonny Payne)




Sonny Payne - Count Basie









The Count Basie Band 1962














































Sonny Payne and Eddie Jones
Photo: Chuck Stewart




NYC October 1957 (Count Basie and His Orchestra taped
the legendary record "The Atomic Basie")








performed with:

Count Basie
Freddie Green
Frank Foster
Henry Coker
Frank Wess
Marshall Royal
Joe Newman
Charlie Fowlkes
Thad Jones
Benny Powell
Al Grey
Snooky Young
Eddie Jones
Wendell Culley
Sonny Cohn
Joe Williams
Ella Fitzgerald
Eric Dixon
Billy Mitchell
Chris Connor
Bill Henderson
Big Joe Turner
Frank Sinatra
George Gershwin
Harry James
Sarah Vaughan
Tony Bennett
Tiny Grimes
Ray Charles
Nat King Cole
Mel Tormé
Teresa Brewer
Paul Quinichette
Lambert, Hendricks & Ross
Duke Ellington

...and many more




























Classic Drum Solos and Drum Battles Vol. 2