Herman "Roscoe" Ernest III

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Herman "Roscoe" Ernest III
Herman Ernest12.jpg
Background information
Birth nameHerman Ernest III
Also known asRoscoe, "Herman the German" by Dr. John
BornAugust 12, 1951
OriginNew Orleans, Louisiana, United States
DiedMarch 6, 2011(2011-03-06) (aged 59)
GenresBlues, rock, New Orleans R&B, funk
Occupation(s)Musician, arranger, bandleader
InstrumentsDrums, percussion, vocals
Years active1971–2011
Associated actsDr. John

Herman Ernest III (August 12, 1951 – March 6, 2011), best known as Roscoe, was an American drummer in the New Orleans funk scene, and is best known for his drumming in Dr. John's band the Lower 911 for almost 30 years.[1] "Renowned for his larger-than-life personality Roscoe was both a powerful percussionist and steadfast individual."[2] He played drums on Dr. John's Trippin' Live, released on July 29, 1997, under the Wind-Up record label, which was recorded over a week in London in 1996 at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club.

Herman Ernest with drum sticks

Early life and career[edit]

In 1971 he was hired as the drummer of King Floyd's new road band the Rhythm Masters. After a split from the singer they renamed the band World Blues and played gigs around New Orleans. Ernest was the primary drummer on the two Allen Toussaint produced Patti LaBelle albums (Nightbirds and Phoenix), most influentially in his contribution to the beat of "Lady Marmalade". After World Blues dwindled, Ernest formed another club band with Teddy Royal called Cypress. Ernest played for years at the Sea-Saint studios with Allen Toussaint among others. In 2005, before Hurricane Katrina he was working on Nine Lives with Paul Sanchez.

He began recording with Dr. John in the early 1990s, and became a member of the band after the recording of Trippin' Live in 1996. Shortly after that he became the bandleader and remained a key member until his death, providing a "sturdy foundation."[2] "Their rapport, honed over many years together and the result of a profound mutual respect, was obvious in Mr. Ernest’s humorous introductions and commentaries delivered from behind the drum kit. During a set at the 2010 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell, Mr. Ernest provided a play-by-play description of Rebennack’s zombie-like soft-shoe dance in "I Been Hoodooed"."[2]

Although he spent the majority of his time recording, Ernest was active in different areas of the New Orleans community. He was a deputy sheriff for the New Orleans Police Department and dedicated time during Mardi Gras and Thanksgiving to ensure peace was kept throughout the city. He was active in the Baptist Church. He played drums for his mother's church, the Greater Liberty Baptist Church, on Desire Street in New Orleans. He taught drumming techniques to children with Alonzo Bowens Jr. at the Louis Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp.[3]

Ernest lost his battle with cancer on March 6, 2011.[1] To honor his commitment to music and the New Orleans culture, the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic started the NOMAF's Herman Ernest Memorial Interfaith Health Screening Initiative,[4] which will screen New Orleans residents, most specifically musicians for head and neck cancer.

Associated acts[edit]

Ernest has played with many musicians including, Johnny Adams, Marcia Ball, Billy Branch, Solomon Burke, Josh Charles, Shemekia Copeland, Cowboy Mouth, Jeremy Davenport, Lee Dorsey, Snooks Eaglin, Carol Fran, Grady Gaines, Guitar Shorty, Jools Holland, Etta James, Earl King, Joe Krown, Patti LaBelle, Linda Lewis, Ramsey Lewis, John Mayall, Jimmy McCracklin, Larry McCray, The Meters, Maria Muldaur, Aaron Neville, The Neville Brothers, David "Fathead" Newman, Anders Osborne, Earl Palmer, Maceo Parker, Wardell Quezergue, Herlin Riley, Kermit Ruffins, Paul Sanchez, Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint, Johnny Vidacovich, Phillip Walker, Carl Weathersby, Junior Wells and Marva Wright.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b Doc Rock. "2011 January to June". The Dead Rock Stars Club. Retrieved 2015-11-03.
  2. ^ a b c "Herman Ernest, longtime Dr. John drummer, dies of cancer". NOLA.com. Retrieved 2015-11-03.
  3. ^ "Faculty | Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong Jazz Camp". Louisarmstrongjazzcamp.com. 2013-01-24. Retrieved 2015-11-03.
  4. ^ "NOMAF's Herman Ernest Memorial Health Screening Initiative". Archived from the original on August 15, 2011. Retrieved June 8, 2011.

External links[edit]