Kenny Clare

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Kenny Clare was born in London at the end of the 1920s, and took up the drums as a boy. His first professional engagement came at the age of 20, when he joined Oscar Rabin's dance band, a broadcast outfit…
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Artist Biography by

Kenny Clare was born in London at the end of the 1920s, and took up the drums as a boy. His first professional engagement came at the age of 20, when he joined Oscar Rabin's dance band, a broadcast outfit that was very popular at the time. He passed through the line-up of Jack Parnell's band before settling into an extended gig with Johnny Dankworth and his orchestra, which carried him from the mid-'50s into the early '60s. He became a member of Ted Heath's band, but also played with the studio group Sounds Orchestral at Pye Records, and cut sides for EMI's Studio Two imprint with a group that he co-founded and led with drummer Ronnie Stephenson; their repertory was classic big-band swing, and Clare never moved too far from this specialty. He was with the Clark-Boland Big Band in the early '70s, and played countless one-off sessions and gigs with various jazz and pop outfits, backing artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, and Cleo Laine, as well as playing on scores for commercials, radio shows, television, and film. One of his greatest nights of triumph, recalled by Les Tompkins at the time of Clare's death in 1984, was a 1972 concert at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, where he played alongside Buddy Rich and Louie Bellson in a series of sequential drum solos. Clare also served as secretary of the International Drummers Association.