New Orléans jazz drummer Paul Ferrara, who played with Louis Prima, Frank Sinatra, Pete Fountain, Al Hirt and other greats during a 65-year career and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009, has died. Paul passed away earlier today at his home in Kenner. He was 76.
Born in 1938 in the French Quarter of New Orléans to Sicilian immigrant parents, Paul Ferrara began playing drums at the age of 11 or 13. He studied under Al Pollock.
After several years his music career took him to Las Vegas, where he was a regular performer from the 1950s through the 1970s.
Among the other music greats he performed with over the years are Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday.
Later in his career, Paul also performed at the White House for four US presidents. He also played frequently at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
As an Italian-American musician, Paul was part of the last generation of New Orleans jazz musicians who not only played with 1920s legends such as Santo Pecora and Sharkey Bonano, but was also part of the jazz revival of the 1960s and early 1970s.
His distinct drumming style, which included the mastery of the left handed shuffle, can be heard on hundreds of recordings, and could be seen in television appearances on such programs as The Ed Sullivan Show.