Mel Zelnick, a drummer who gained fame as a band member of jazz icon Benny Goodman in the 1950s and later as a touring recording artist for Capitol Records, has passed away. He died of a heart attack on Thursday morning Februay 21, 2008. Mel Zelnick was 83.
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For several years, Mel Zelnick had struggled with his health after undergoing heart bypass surgery.
Born into a poor family in Harlem, New York on September 28, 1924, Mel Zelnick learned to play drums at the prestigious Julliard School in New York City.
His talent and drive led him on stints as a drummer for the US Army Band during World War II, Benny Goodman in the 1950s, and famous Capitol Records studio artists such as Peggy Lee in the 1960s.
Watch this video from 2007 in which Mel Zelnick shares his stories of Benny Goodman.
Mel Zelnick also played for Grammy award-winning pop vocalist Patti Page, legendary rhythm and blues singer Ray Charles and well-known jazz singer-songwriter Nat King Cole in the middle part of the 20th century.
Zelnick is buried at Heritage Memorial Park, 12000 Heritage Lane, in Dewey.