'Tonight Show' Drummer Ed Shaughnessy Dead at 84

(photo: Getty Images)
Ed Shaughnessy

Shaughnessy performed with 'The Tonight Show' band from 1963 to 1992.

Ed Shaughnessy, a longtime drummer for The Tonight Show band, died at age 84 of a heart attack while at home Friday (May 24) in Calabasas, Calif., the Los Angeles Times reports.

The jazz drummer played in Doc Severinsen's band from 1963 to 1992. Shaughnessy performed drums for artists as varied as Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, and Oscar Peterson, the Percussive Arts Society noted in a hall of fame profile.

Shaughnessy joined the New York jazz scene as a teenager before later being added to the band for the Johnny Carson-hosted program. After he parted ways with show, he kept performing and playing concerts.

"When you have a high profile gig like [The Tonight Show], people kind of assume that's your bag, and I certainly don't blame anybody," Shaughnessy said in a 1998 Chicago Tribune interview. "But prior to getting that gig, I had a really deep and rich jazz background and I really made my living as a jazz drummer."

He was married to Ilene Woods, the voice of Cinderella in the Disney animated film, who passed away in 2010.

Shaughnessy wrote a 2010 memoir, titled Lucky Drummer, that chronicles his life story from his childhood in New Jersey to playing experimental music with artists like Miles Davis to his time at the late night show.

 


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