Eric Delaney

The Stage
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Drummer, bandleader and perhaps above all showman, Eric Delaney succeeded in keeping his style of big band music popular even after the advent of rock’n’roll, which dispatched so many of his rivals.

The purchase by his mother of his first drum when he was ten led to a precocious musical childhood. By his mid-teens, he was touring variety theatres with the Ambrose Octet, featuring the pianist, George Shearing, and the singer, Anne Shelton.

His dream was to play with Geraldo’s band, and at the age of 22, he successfully auditioned for Geraldo and played with the band that same night. He spent eight years with the band and, during that time, he developed a trademark sound, playing timpani with wire brushes, the first drummer to do so. He left to form his own band, comprising five trumpets and four saxophones (three tenors and a baritone). Also on stage were his two drum kits and three timpani. During appearances, he leapt from one set of drums to another. Another gimmick was the installation of flashing lights in his drums.

With the arrival of rock’n’roll, his band grew smaller. Even so, his seasons at Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach were a big success. In 1998, he moved to Benidorm where he became a nightly attraction at a club. He returned home in 2006.

Eric Delaney, who was born on May 22, 1924, died on July 14, aged 87.

Richard Anthony Baker

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The Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, London. Photo: Noel Foster