Percussionist Joe Lala, who played for such influential acts as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, the Allman Brothers, The Eagles, The Bee Gees, The Byrds, and Barbara Streisand, has died of cancer. He passed away on March 18th at 7 am in Tampa, Florida's St Joseph's Hospital. Joe Lala was 67 years old.
The legendary percussionist, who gained local fame with Blues Image, and Stephen Stills Manassas, started out at fourteen, when his mother bought him his first real set of drums.
For the next few years, he used to quip, his name was known by every cop in town. Law enforcement regularly had to ask him to stop playing late at night so the neighbors could sleep.
Joe played in his high school bands, by then not a great drummer just average. But when he switched primarily to the congas, suddenly the game changed.
In 1966 he went to play with several Bay area groups before co-founding Blues Image with Mike Pinera. They opened for The Doors, Janis Joplin, Cream with Eric Clapton and the Yardbirds with Jimmy Page.
In 1969, on the advice of Frank Zappa, Blues Image headed west to Los Angeles, where they became the house band at the iconic music venue Whiskey a Go-Go. During his initial year in California, Joe also jammed with Jimi Hendrix, Rick Derringer and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
That same year, Blues Image was invited to Woodstock, but on the advice of their manager chose to perform at a venue in Binghamton, NY, instead, believing the now historic outdoor concert would be rained out.
One year later, in 1970, Blues Image went on to stardom with their hit single Ride Captain Ride, Pinera went with Iron Butterfly and Joe Lala started out what turned out to be a fantastic recording career, playing on records for hundreds of acts including Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, Diana Ross, Etta James, Kenny Rogers, John Mellencamp, Whitney Houston and Herbie Hancock.
Joe's living room was well adorned with 32 Gold Records and 28 Platinum Records from RIAA recordings which he was featured on.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome gave way to a new career, acting. Joe's credits are large in this field as well. He had 58 credits, including roles on Seinfeld, Miami Vice and Melrose Place, as well as cartoons such as Johnny Bravo and The Batman. Joe also shared scenes with Robert Redford in 1980's Havana and Steven Segal in Out for Justice in 1991.
In 2004 Joe gave up his career to return to Tampa to care for his ailing mother.
The musician/actor was diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer in late 2013. Joe fought hard, had chemo and radiation, but the damage done by the cancer proved to be too much.