In memoriam: Spirit sticksman Ed Cassidy Drummer who influenced Led Zep's John Bonham dies at 89 Ed Cassidy, the drummer for the classic rock band Spirit, has passed away. He died of undisclosed causes in his residence in San Jose, Southern California on December 6, 2012. Ed was 89 years old.

Born in a rural town near Chicago in 1923, Ed began his musical career as a teenager. After serving in the Navy during World War II, Ed spent the 1950s working primarily as a jazz drummer with many leading artists including Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, Thelonious Monk, and Lee Konitz among others.

In the '60s Ed co-founded a band called Rising Sons with Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder, before forming a new group in 1965: The Red Roosters. With the addition of keyboardist John Locke, the ensemble changed its name to Spirit in 1967.

The group created a sound that was an amalgam of jazz, hard rock, and psychedelic influences.

Spirit's self-titled first album was released in 1968. They capitalized on the success of their debut album with the single I Got A Line On You. It was released in November 1968, a month before their second album, 'The Family That Plays Together' and became their biggest hit.

Soon after Spirit also went on tour with Led Zeppelin as support. Spirit's impact on the then-little-known British band was substantial.

Ed Cassidy's impact on John Bonham
Ed, who stood out in those years because he sported a shaved head (hence his nickname "Mr. Skin") and wore all black, had a considerable influence on Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham. Ed often performed his live drum solo with his bare hands, which is widely believed to have influenced Bonham's performance on Moby Dick (although other sources claim John got this idea while playing in the Blue Star Trio, or from Barry "Frosty" Smith).

Jimmy Page reportedly began using a theramin to alter the tone of his guitar after seeing Spirit guitarist Randy California doing it on stage. And many fans and critics have noted the similarities between Spirit's song Taurus and the intro to Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven, which appeared several years later.

Spirit disbanded after Randy California's death in 1997. Edhad played with various line-ups of Spirit over almost four decades.

From the mid 1970s, Ed Cassidy also worked as publicist and actor, including appearances on the tv series General Hospital and in films.
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