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Panama Francis


With an extended and winding career that stretched within a total of seven decades, drummer David “Panama” Francis continues to be highlighted both in top Harlem nightclubs and legendary rock and roll songs over time. Blessed in Miami, Francis started playing his device using the drum and bugle corps around the region by age eight. This resulted in a full-time gig with George Kelly’s Cavaliers as an adolescent, before relocating to NEW YORK (Francis was presented with his nickname by trumpeter Roy Eldridge, because of his fondness for a particular Panama head wear). Francis 1st increased to prominence in the past due ’30s, when he was an associate from the Savoy Sultans, a Harlem-based group which was once crowned the very best Big Music group by the brand new York Jazz Culture, received a set of Grammy nominations and was praised by Dizzy Gillespie as “the swingingest music group there ever was.” From the 1950s, Francis centered on studio room function, as he quickly became among the best studio room drummers of the complete period, playing on early rock and roll & move classics by such performers as Friend Holly (“Peggy Sue”), the Four Months (“Big Ladies Don’t Cry” and “Walk Just like a Man”), the Platters (“Just You,” “THE FANTASTIC Pretender,” “Smoke cigarettes Gets within your Eye,” and “My Prayer”), Bobby Darin (“Splish Splash”), and Neil Sedaka (“Calendar Woman”). But Francis’ accurate background place in jazz (he supported such leading jazz performers as Benny Goodman and Joe Williams) and R&B, as he revisited his origins on such recordings as “Prisoner of Like” by Wayne Brown, “Just what a Difference each day Makes” by Dinah Washington, “Drown in my Tears” by Ray Charles, and “Jim Dandy” by Laverne Baker. Over time, Francis landed many little bit parts in movies, including such movies because the Learning Tree, Woman Sings the Blues, and Angel Center, and in 1999, released his autobiography, David Gets His Drum, before succumbing to some heart stroke on November 11, 2001 at age 82.

Quick Facts

Full Name Panama Francis
Died November 13, 2001, Orlando, Florida, United States
Nationality American
Awards Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award
Music Songs Blues Roll, Honey Blues, Satchel Shuffle, Jitterbug Jump, Pussy Cats At Midnight, Panama, The Drummer Boy, Song of the Islands, Blues in Bea's Flat, Panama's Jump, The Crackerjack, Rhythm Dr. Man, Little John Special, Peach Tree Shuffle, Exploding Drums, I Got A Woman, Battle Of Jericho, Yakety Yak, Ya Ya, Hallelujah, I Love Her So, Just You, Just Me, Tough Talk, This Nearly Was Mine, Norfolk Ferry, Serenade to My Father, Lil' Liza Jane, Panama's Party, The Work Song, Prelude In C-Sharp Minor, Desdemona's Lament, Killer Joe, Sleepy Time Gal, Million Dollar Cha-Cha
Albums 75th Birthday Concert (Live), All Stars 1949, Exploding Drums!, Live At Liberty State Park (Live), Panama Story, Savoy 4 Live in Switzerland, Vol. 1, Big Band Classics

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1 Drummer with the bands of Teddy Wilson, Sy Oliver, Roy Eldridge, Luccky Millinder, Willie Bryant and Cab Calloway.

Music Department

Music Department

Malcolm X 1992 musician: drums, Big Band

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