Jimmy Van Eaton, early rock 'n' roll drummer who played with the greats at Sun Records, dies at 86

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J.M. "Jimmy" Van Eaton, a pioneering stone ‘n’ rotation drummer who played down nan likes of Jerry Lee Lewis and Billy Lee Riley astatine Sun Records successful Memphis, Tennessee, died Friday astatine property 86, a family personnel said.

Van Eaton, a Memphis autochthonal who came to nan celebrated grounds explanation arsenic a teenager, died astatine his location successful Alabama aft dealing pinch wellness issues complete nan past year, The Commercial Appeal of Memphis reported, pinch a daughter, Terri Van Eaton Downing, confirming his death.

Van Eaton was known for his bluesy playing style that nan newspaper said powered classical early-rock hits astatine Sun for illustration "Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On" by Lewis and "Red Hot" by Riley. He besides played pinch Bill Justis and Charlie Rich.


James Mack Van Eaton initially began playing trumpet successful a schoolhouse band, but he soon moved to drums, saying successful a 2015 question and reply that "it was an instrumentality that intrigued me."

Van Eaton had his ain rock ‘n’ rotation band called The Echoes that would grounds a demo astatine nan signaling workplace operated by Sam Phillips. His activity location led him to link pinch Riley and later Lewis.

"The hardest man to play pinch successful nan world was Jerry Lee. I told each musician to enactment retired of this man’s way," Phillips told The Commercial Appeal successful 2000. "The 1 objection was JM Van Eaton."

Van Eaton became a halfway of musicians that performed astatine Sun done nan 1950s, nan newspaper reported.

Van Eaton drifted distant from nan euphony business successful nan 1960s, but he resumed performing by nan 1970s, peculiarly arsenic liking successful rockabilly grew pursuing nan decease of Elvis Presley.

By nan early 1980s, Van Eaton began 4 decades of moving successful nan municipal enslaved business. But he besides was portion of nan squad that played nan euphony for nan movie "Great Balls of Fire," astir Lewis, and he put retired a solo medium successful nan precocious 1990s. He was a personnel of nan Rockabilly Hall of Fame and Memphis Music Hall of Fame. He moved from Tennessee to Alabama a fewer years ago.

Other survivors of Van Eaton see different daughter, 2 sons and a stepson. His erstwhile wife, Deborah, said that backstage services will beryllium held successful nan coming week, nan newspaper said.