Beaver Harris

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William Godvin "Beaver" Harris (April 20, 1936 – December 22, 1991)[1] was an American jazz drummer who worked extensively with Archie Shepp.[2]


Harris was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States.[1] Coming from an athletic family, he played baseball as a teenager for the Kansas City Monarchs (then part of the Negro American League) and was scouted by major league teams Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants.[3]

It was only after he was in the United States Army that he began playing drums.[1] After his national service ended in 1963 he moved to New York City and was encouraged to pursue a musical career by Max Roach.[1] While in New York he worked and/or toured with Marion Brown, Dexter Gordon, Albert Ayler, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Clifford Jordan, Howard Johnson, Sheila Jordan, Lee Konitz, Thelonious Monk, Roswell Rudd, Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner,[3] Sonny Stitt, Clark Terry, Chet Baker, Doc Cheatham and Larry Coryell among other musicians.[1]

In addition, Harris founded a "world music" band and called it The 360 Degree Music Experience.[1] The band included some of the most significant artists of the time, including Buster Williams, Hamiet Bluiett, Don Pullen, Jimmy Garrison, Ron Carter, Ricky Ford, and many others.

Harris died of prostate cancer in New York at the age of 55.[4] He was survived by his widow, Glo Harris of New York and his children, William Godvin Harris III, Verna Harris Vaughn, and Portia Harris.


As leader[edit]

  • From Rag Time to No Time (360, 1975)
  • In: Sanity (Black Saint, 1976)
  • African Drums (Owl, 1978)
  • Beautiful Africa (Soul Note, 1979)
  • Safe (Red, 1980)
  • Negcaumongus (Cadence, 1981)
  • Live at Nyon (Cadence, 1981)
  • A Well Kept Secret (Shemp, 1984)
  • Beaver Is My Name (Timeless, 1987)
  • Thank You for Your Ears (Dizim, 1998)

As sideman[edit]

With Albert Ayler

With Marion Brown

With Roswell Rudd

With Archie Shepp

With others


  1. ^ a b c d e f Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 1088. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  2. ^ "Beaver Harris Biography, Songs, & Albums". AllMusic. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Pareles, Jon. "Beaver Harris, 55, A Leading Drummer in Jazz Ensembles". The New York Times, January 7, 1992.
  4. ^ "Beaver Harris / April 20, 1936 - Dec 22, 1991". Retrieved September 9, 2021.