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Herb Lovelle

Press Release - 4/11/09
For Immediate Release

Contact: Vanessa Kerr-King

Herb Lovelle, versatile drummer, studio musician, and actor, passed on to the ancestors, 4/8/09

Herb Lovelle was trained by his uncle, drummer Arthur Herbert, who insisted he learn how to read music. This helped him greatly in his career at a time when black musicians were not held to know this. In World War II, he was part of the famed Red Ball Express resupply operation that made General Patton's dash across Northern Europe possible. He also played in an Army swing band that traveled throughout Northern France.

His first professional job was for Hot Lips Page in 1949. This led to adventurous road tours with others such as Lucky Millinder, Oscar and Johnny Moore trio, Hal Singer, Willis Jackson, Earl “Fatha” Hines, Billie Graham, Dancer Paul Draper, The Billie Williams Quartet-plus 5, Nat “King” Cole and Arnett Cobb.

Herb left the road tours to stay closer to home. Being employed by both Lucky Thompson and Jimmie Rushing, Herb got a coveted gig at the Savoy Ballroom. As word of his abilities spread, Herb was exposed to the recording studio of Apollo Records and a list of “Gospel” groups that connected him with the R&B artists he later recorded with like Laverne Baker, Ruth Brown, Willis Jackson, Hal Singer and others. Herb got a good dose of the “Blues” playing with Lightnin’ Hopkins, Muddy Waters, Big Joe Turner and Jimmy Witherspoon. “Jazz” finds him with its distribution warehouse. He recorded with Mahalia Jackson, the Drinkard Singers, Sonny Stitt, Ike Quebec, Wynton Kelly, Art Farmer, King Pleasure, Buddy Tate, Buck Clayton, Nat Adderly, Illinois Jacquet, Johnny Hodges, Budd Johnson, Kenny Burrell, Mongo Santamaria, Willie Bobo, Slim Gaillard, Clark Terry, and Errol Garner.

He performed on early television with the King Guion orchestra on the Jerry Lester Show and the Ed Sullivan Show. Herb was the Lead Drummer for the 1966 Sammy Davis, Jr. TV Show originating in NY.

Herb’s contribution to the dance world began with Sophie Maszlo and went to Paul Draper and Alvin Ailey’s “Revelations”. The earlier Days at the Apollo Theater and the subsequent Black circuit tours plus Allen Freed and Murray the “K” prepared Herb for Broadway's “Don’t Bother Me I Can’t Cope”, "Guys and Dolls," and “The Wiz”. 

Herb worked as a NY studio musician performing the Blues, R & B, Pop, Rock & Roll, and Jazz with Jimmie Smith, Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary, John Denver, B.B. King ("The Thrill is gone"), Roberta Flack, Aretha Franklin, Jon Lucien, Dinah Washington, Baby Washington, The McCoys, The Angels, Main Ingredient, Manhattans, Judy Garland, Connie Francis, Lena Home, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masakela, Nina Simone, Shirley Home, Gloria Lynne, Irene Reid, Gladys Knight & Pips, Isley Bros, Leslie Uggams, Peaches and Herb, Inez Foxx, Chuck Jackson, Johnny Mathis, Vie Damone, Johnny Desmond, Jerry Vale, Tony Bennett, Astrud Gilberto, Sam (the man) Taylor, among many others.

In 1976, Herb produced the first Stuff album, which went gold in the US and platinum in Japan.

In the 1980's, Herb switched careers and became an actor. His film credits include: Bella (2006), Mitchellville (2004) (Sundance), The Rhythm of the Saints (2003), Don't Explain (2002), The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001), Down to Earth (2001), Girlfight (2000), Maximum Risk (1996), Getting Away with Murder (1996), White Lies (1996), Bleeding Hearts (1994), The Paper (1994), Running on Empty (1988), Death Wish III (1985), A Man Called Adam (1966). In his earlier films, he had bit parts, reaching to supporting roles as in Girlfight and a lead role in Mitchellville.

His TV credits include: Into the Fire (2005), How Do You Spell Belief? (2005), Kingpin Rising (2005), Third Watch (2 episodes, 2005), and Law & Order TV (1995-2004).

His theatre credits include: King Lear, Driving Miss Daisy, I’m Not Rappaport, Miss Evers’ Boys, Yesterdays (An Evening with Billie Holiday), Some Sweet Day, Song of Singapore, Ma Rose, Amen Corner, Conrack, Macbeth, and Murder To Go, Inc.

Services are Friday April 17, 2009 at 10 AM
Roy L Gilmore's Funeral Home
(718) 529-3030
19102 Linden Blvd
Jamaica, NY 11412

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