Thursday, 12 November 2015


Back in the day, whenever people asked about my favourite rock drummer (apart from the ones who also sang, Levon Helm, Buddy Miles or George Grantham) I always answered 'Fast' Eddie Hoh. Eddie was the drummer on Super Session, Al Kooper with Michael Bloomfield in some sweet R&B on one side, and with Steve Stills in some countryish rock on the other. That's Eddie on the upper right side of the Super Session album's back cover. Although I like the first side better, the cut that shows off Eddie's drumming best is the uptempo Kooper/Stills version of Dylan's 'It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry', where Harvey Brooks is pounding out the bass and Eddie is backbeating the sucker to death.

Super Session alone would do, but Eddie Hoh also drums on a couple of my other favourite records: Harvey Mandel's Cristo Redentor and Barry Goldberg's Two Jews Blues, also with Bloomfield. He drummed on Donovan's Sunshine Superman, which means he did Season Of The Witch with Donovan and then with Kooper and Stills. He played on some other good ones by fellow Chicago guys Mandel, Goldberg, and Charlie Musselwhite, and on Tim Buckley's Goodbye And Hello, which makes sense because I learned from the obits that Eddie came up with the Modern Folk Quartet, and connections with them would link many parts of his career. I hadn't known that the MFQ (as a Quintet) recorded with Phil Spector (see photo left), and that with Jack Nitzsche producing made a single called 'Night Time Girl', written by Kooper and Irwin Levine (the pair wrote This Diamond Ring for Gary Lewis and the Playboys). Small world.

He toured and recorded with the Mamas and Papas. There's a YouTube video of his performing with them and he stands out, not least for failing to be a victim of fashion. Hoh was the second stand-in drummer (after Hal Blaine) on Monkees records, he drummed on their hit with John Stewart's Daydream Believer. He and Goldberg also tried to form a band with Gram Parsons (now there's another set of tapes I'd love to hear), later Parsons brought him in as the original drummer in the Flying Burrito Brothers; he drummed on their demos and Sin City, but was fired when he showed up too wasted to work, something that must have taken some doing in those circles.
And, as I just re-discovered reading his obits, he recorded with Lee Michaels, which I'd forgotten as I was never really a Michaels fan; he and Michaels had both played with Joel Scott Hill. Hoh drummed in a nascent version of Poco that included Michaels, before George Grantham, and played briefly with Gene Clark (along with Clarence White and John York) in what must have been a hell of band; only Clark lost interest when their audiences only wanted to hear Byrds hits (ironically enough Parsons and York would go on to join the Byrds).

After leaving the Burritos Eddie Hoh basically dropped off the recording map. His last credit was Mandel's Games Guitars Play (1970). There was one rumour he was dead, another that he'd wigged out and was living on the street or in an asylum in Chicago.  He resurfaced or was rediscovered via the internet, and had a short time in which his achievements were recognised again, before dying in a rest home outside Chicago, of natural causes.

And still today, when people ask me who my favourite rock drummer was, I say Fast Eddie Hoh. RIP


Unknown said...

Great drummer. Check out his work on Super Sessions' "You Don't Love Me."

Michael Carlson said...

Check out the first graf of the essay