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Remembering Bobby Orr

Remembering Bobby Orr

A worldwide community story . . .

The below photo was sent to me recently by Chris Welch (one of the UK’s most respected music journalists and writers), and it prompted me to think about creating this piece on Bobby Orr, one of Britain’s greatest drummers.  Sadly, we lost Bobby back in March, aged 91.  The photo was taken taken in August 2008 at a surprise 80th Birthday lunch I had organised for him.  Bobby is behind the kit (a Gretsch 125th Anniversary Progressive Jazz in Cadillac Green), flanked by some of the ‘elder statesmen’ of British drummers, from left to right:

  • Eric Delaney – Showman drummer (he and Bobby used to do Gretsch clinic tours together)
  • Bob Henrit – Adam Faith, Unit 4 + 2, Argent, Don McClean, The Kinks
  • Clem Cattini – Tornadoes, Johnny Kidd & The Pirates and session man – played on 44 No 1 hits (Britain’s Hal Blaine)
  • Pete Cater – Big band leader and drummer
  • Alan Graham – Percussionist and vibes player (still gigging at 92!)
  • John Marshall – Soft Machine

(The disembodied head in the mirror is mine!)

Bobby’s playing credits included Bing Crosby, Billy Eckstein and Sammy Davis Junior.  He was the only British drummer to tour with Benny Goodman (1970 tour of Europe). I remember on one of my visits to the Sabian plant in Meductic talking about Bobby with the late Bob Zildjian.  Bob recalled a conversation with Goodman post the 1970 tour, and that he came back full of praise for the great Scots drummer he had discovered.

Here is a link to Bobby playing with Goodman in Viareggio Italy in 1970, and another with his party piece rendition of a Mozart’s Turkish March, note perfect on his teeth with two Hb pencils, filmed at a charity event in 2008 (for which I got a NAMM Award).  And here is a link to a lovely piece on Bobby written by Chris Welch.

I thought everyone might like to see this photo of one of Britain’s drumming greats (and one time Gretsch endorsee) behind one of the finest kits ever to bear the Gretsch name.

With every good wish for Christmas and a better 2021!

Chris Wright, Owner of DrumWright 1996 – 2016

(Note: some minor edits to Chris’s piece above were made before posting.)