As you have probably seen in many places on the Internet, the legendary drummer of “The Tonight Show” passed away from a heart attack in his home, in Calabasas, California, on May 24th. Ed Shaughnessy was 84, but he was timeless. So much can be found about him, and his book, “Lucky Drummer,” contains a lifetime of stories that built the man many drummers stayed up late to watch and learn from.


I posted a blog about his back accident last year, and a follow-up regarding his recovery a couple of months later. I wanted to share an e-mail he sent me regarding the accident and how much he appreciated you readers sending hims cards. If you were one of them, this e-mail is really for you:


The other note I wanted to share with you was something of a life-changing one. When I was 20, I was watching “The Tonight Show” one night and saw a public service announcement that helped me answer a question that had been plaguing me for fourteen years. From the age of six to twenty, I lived with an undiagnosed case of Tourette Syndrome. Drumming had always been my salvation and sanity provider, and watching Ed Shaughnessy play was something of a routine.

My life had been incredibly frustrating up to that point, not knowing what was the matter with my body. The night I saw that PSA, I knew in an instant, absolutely, what the cause was. I got the answer to my question because I watched “The Tonight Show,” and I watched it mostly because of Ed.


Having the opportunity to share this story and thanks directly with Ed came less than a year later, when I moved from Baltimore to Los Angeles. As I mentioned little in a previous post, I heard Ed play in a club in the San Fernando Valley called Dante’s, and he was as gracious as you have ever heard and then some. Having the drummer from “The Tonight Show” came to your table after every set and talk… priceless.

Our family of legendary jazz drummers from the great swing and be-bop era grows smaller every year. We must view them as national musical treasures. If they are on-line, think about sending them messages of thanks and respect. I suspect they will greatly appreciate it, as did Ed. He will be missed, but not forgotten.