Unpublished material on Led Zepellin's drummer and more
Artist biography Idris Muhammad
Idris Muhammad was born on November 13, 1939 as Leo Morris, and began playing the drums at age 8 in his native New Orleans.
By the time he was 16, he was performing in jazz bands. At that age, he was also featured as a drummer on Fats Domino's 1956 hit Blueberry Hill.
Idris Muhammad became known as one of the most innovative drummers in soul music of the 1960's, performing with singers Sam Cooke, Jerry Butler, and The Impressions.
Idris Muhammad played for the popular musical Hair while performing with the house band for the Prestige Label in the early 1970's. For the rest of that decade, he accompanied popular singer Roberta Flack, led his own band, and worked with Johnny Griffin and Pharaoh Sanders.
Idris Muhammad's 1993 recording My Turn includes saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. and trumpetor Randy Brecker, both of whom are also featured performers in this year's 25th Annual University of Pittsburgh Jazz Seminar and Concert.
Jazz drummer Idris Muhammad was born as as Leo Morris in New Orleans in 1939 into a family where his brothers also played the drums. Morris had one teacher in his life that he paid for one lesson. His name was Paul Barbarin. He used to play with Louis Armstrong. Leo Morris recalls: "All of the seasoned guys used to say if you want to learn how to play drums, you got to take lessons with Paul Barbarin. So I asked Mr. Barbarin to come to my house so I could take a lesson. He came by. He said 'Ok, sit down at the drums and play the intro to Bourbon Street Parade.' He said play a waltz, and I played a waltz. He said play a mambo, and I played a mambo. He said play a cha-cha, and I played a cha-cha. He said, 'Listen, son. I'm a very busy man. One day you're gonna be a great drummer, but when they say to you that you're great, let in go in one ear and out the other ear. Now gimme my two dollars.'" Leo Morris continues explaining the launching of his career as a professional drummer: "I started out with the Neville Brothers. That's my family. Arthur Neville had a band when I was 14 or 15 called the Hawkettes. They needed a drummer. All of my brothers are drummers. They just happened to grab a hold of me because everybody else was workin'. That was the launching of my career, playin' professionally."
Despite the immense list of jazz artists he worked with, Leo Morris /Idris Muhammaddenies being a jazz drummer: "I was never a jazz drummer. I really don't think today that I'm a jazz drummer. They kind of made me do this. And I ended up making so many records with everybody that they started saying I was a jazz drummer, you know? But I started off playin' rhythm and blues with Arthur when we had the band. We used to back up all of the artists that would come to New Orleans. Big Joe Turner. Muddy Waters. We was the band that backed them up. So we always knew the top 10 tunes that was on the charts at that time." Leo Morris played those early years with people like Fats Domino, Joe Jones and Sam Cooke.
Leo Morris/Idris Muhammad names Earl Palmer, Ed Blackwell, John Boudreaux and Smokey Johnson as musical influences.
Idris Muhammad was an American jazz drummer who recorded extensively with many musicians, including Ahmad Jamal, Lou Donaldson, Pharoah Sanders, and Tete Montoliu.BiographyMuhammad was an endorser of Istanbul Agop Cymbals.In 2012 Xlibris released the book Inside The Music: The Life of Idris Muhammad, which he wrote with his friend Britt Alexander. He died aged 74 in 2014.Personal lifeHe changed his name in the 1960s upon his conversion to Islam. In 1966, he married Dolores "LaLa" Brooks (former member of the Crystals; she converted to Islam with him and went for a time under the name Sakinah Muhammad). They separated in 1999. Together, they had two sons and two daughters, and he had one daughter from a previous marriage to Gracie Lee Edwards.DiscographyAs leader 1970: Black Rhythm Revolution! 1976: House of the Rising Sun (Kudu) 1977: Turn This Mutha Out (Kudu) 1978: Boogie to the Top (Kudu) 1978: You Ain't No Friend of Mine 1992: My Turn (Lipstick) 1998: Right Now (Cannonball)