Lady Jazz! Drummer Jerrie Thill At Age 93

Lady Jazz! Drummer Jerrie Thill At Age 93

posted in: Essays | 5

In my quest to find late bloomers, I often run across people who start early and just keep going. They’re not really late bloomers, but they’re just as inspirational.

Recently I discovered jazz drummer Jerrie Thill (1917-2010). She’s iconic here in Los Angeles, where she performed every Sunday at a local club right into her 90s. I’m sad to report Jerrie just passed away last spring.

Born in Dubuque, Iowa, Jerrie began beating the skins at age 16. By 18, she made a living at it. Jerrie led her own all-girl  bands during the height of the swing era. As a member of Peggy Gilbert’s Dixie Bells (a group of women musicians over 60), she entered the television age, appearing on the The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Golden Girls and more.

The music video “Hey Jerrie” (below) tells her astonishing life story in song and photo clips. Allee Willis (who wrote the Friends theme and my favorite Earth, Wind & Fire song) made it a year before Jerrie passed. It’ll have you grinning from ear to ear!

5 Responses

  1. diana
    | Reply

    That was just damn awesome. Damn awesome. I also love that she tossed to the wind the omnipresent, subliminal suggestion that older women should keep their hair short. HAHAHAHA!

    • Debra Eve
      |

      Thanks, Diana. She was a firecracker and we miss her here in LA. You’re absolutely right about the hair!

  2. Linda
    | Reply

    I don’t know how or where you find these great people, but it’s fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing this with us. This is really an authentic life lived fully and with joy. Damn, that’s just so cool! (sorry, but I can’t help myself).

    • Debra Eve
      |

      Thanks, Linda. Now that I’m looking for late bloomers, they’re coming at me from all directions. I’ve had quite a few people email and say, “Have you heard about so-and-so?” which is great. Glad you’re enjoying them!

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