Delaney was born in Acton, London. Aged 16, he won the Best Swing Drummer award and later joined the Bert Ambrose Octet which featured George Shearing on piano. During 1947–54 he appeared with the Geraldo Orchestra and filled his time with regular session work in recording studios and on film, TV and radio. In 1954 he formed his own band and later signed with the new Pye Records label. He made three Royal Variety Show appearances, the first in 1956.
Delaney specialised in up-tempo dance hall music, often carrying a rock 'n' roll label but closer in spirit to that of Geraldo and Joe Loss. As with many similar artists, the music he performed became less popular after the Beatles entered the musical scene. He remained active touring in the UK, notably in holiday resorts, nonetheless.
Delaney was held in high regard by his musical peers, including top American drummer Louie Bellson with whom he recorded in 1967 on an album entitled Repercussion. Originally released in high quality stereo on the Studio2Stereo label, it was re-released on the Vocalion label in 2011.
Although best known as a swing drummer, Delaney was a multi-percussionist. Classically~trained as a tympanist, his unique approach went far beyond the scope of orchestral accompaniment, turning the 'timps' into a lead / solo instrument. He also played xylophone, glockenspiel, military snare drum, tubular bells, Chinese and orchestral gongs, and in his 'showmanship' routines, such as 'Persian Market', would run between these, also adding whistles, sandblocks, symphonic cymbals, finger cymbals ~ and pyrotechnics and flying mallets ~ with split~second precision.
The largest gong in the collection was 7' in diameter, one of only three made of that size by Paiste (strenuous to play, and rarely used); his twin~bass drum kits would sit on a one~off revolving stage built for Delaney by British Turntables, whose usual clients were railways wanting to turn locomotives. The drum kit and timpani were internally lit by 60w light bulbs, however Delaney (famed for the 'Permanent Tour'), had a reluctance to invest in drum cases for his high~mileage, heavily~customized drums, relying instead on woollen blankets and especially careful (and caring) roadies; first~hand account from one of his former drum~techs has informed much of this summary.
Away from the pyrotechnics and showmanship, Delaney would occasionally be found behind a minimal kit, sitting in with a jazz quartet, and letting others take the spotlight; 1990s onward, he would also make guest appearances with bands across the UK ~ back to his roots, entertaining audiences by propelling a big band from the drum seat solely on technique ('chops') and power, with all of the 'toys' left in the truck.
Another facet of his work, far removed from the glitter~ball and screaming trumpets, was his playing on the soundtrack of the 'Longest Day', where Delaney's snare opens the movie.
The Eric Delaney Band
- N.15046 "Cockles and Mussels"/"Say Si Si" (04/56)
- N.15054 "Oranges and Lemons"/"Delaney's Delight" (07/56)
"Truckin`"/"Sweet Georgia Brown"
- N.15069 "Rockin' the Tymps"/"Ain't She Sweet" (09/56)
- N.15079 "Rock 'n' Roll King Cole"/"Time for Chimes" (02/57)
- 7N.15113 "Fanfare Jump"/"Jingle Bells" (11/57)
Eric Delaney's Big Beat Six
- 7N.15782 "Big Noise from Winnetka"/"Big Beat" (02/65)
The Eric Delaney Band
- R4646 "Bass Drum Boogie"/"Let's Get Organised" (1960)
- R4753 "Drum Twist"/"Yes Indeed" (1961)
- R4876 "Washboard Blues Twist"/"Sing, Sing, Sing" (1962)
- R4925 "Manhattan Spiritual"/"Down Home" (1962)
A more complete list of Delaney's records (78rpm to CD) including earlier Mercury recordings together with a tentative filmography and videography are in Sammons, Eddie (June 2010). The Magnificent Eric Delaney. Fastprint. ISBN 978-1-84426-825-2.
- The Big Beat of Eric Delaney – MAL 768 (distributed by Pye Records Ltd 1968 (UK))
This article lacks ISBNs for the books listed in it. (July 2011)