Jazz drummer Billy James has passed away. He died at Mercy Hospital on November 20, 2009 due to complications from asthma. The drummer was 73 years old.
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Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Billy James learned his craft there. When he was a child in the 1930s, his mother wanted him to play the horn.
But when Billy went to pick up the horn at a pawn shop, he fell in love with some bongo drums. He phoned his mother to ask if he could switch to drums and \"history was made\".
He first came on the jazz scene with the Lionel Hampton orchestra in 1951, only fifteen years old.
Billy taught himself to read music while serving in the Air Force, and spent his service playing with the Air Force band. After that, he began performing on the road with a variety of jazz greats including Don Patterson, Grant Green, Pat Martino, Eddie Harris and Houston Perso.
Hard bop saxophonist Sonny Stitt called Billy James\' his \"favorite drummer\", not only because of his accuracy and speed, but also because his drumming was an extremely well-disposed shuffle that he seemed able to reinvent endlessly, chorus after chorus.