Paul Humphrey

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Paul Nelson Humphrey (October 12, 1935 – January 31, 2014) was an American jazz and R&B drummer.


Humphrey was born in Detroit and began playing drums at age eight, taking private lessons in Detroit. In high school he played baritone horn, trombone and drums in the school band. Upon graduation he entered the U.S. Navy and studied under Kenneth J. Abendschein, touring the world and playing with many jazz figures of 1950s.[1]

After discharge from the service, he worked as a session drummer in New York for Wes Montgomery, John Coltrane, Les McCann, Kai Winding, Jimmy Smith, Charles Mingus, Joe Williams, Lee Konitz, Blue Mitchell, Gene Ammons and the Harry James Band (replacing Buddy Rich).[2] He moved to Los Angeles and joined the Harry "Sweets" Edison group with Tommy Flanagan and Frank Delarossa. He recorded with Larry Williams and Johnny "Guitar" Watson and toured and recorded with Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops, The Supremes, Tony Orlando, Jerry Garcia, Burt Bacharach, Diahann Carroll, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Bill Medley.[1] In late 1974, he toured with Jerry Garcia, Merl Saunders, Martin Fierro and John Kahn as a member of Legion of Mary.

As a bandleader, he recorded under the name Paul Humphrey and the Cool Aid Chemists with keyboardist Clarence MacDonald, guitarist David T. Walker, and bassist Bill Upchurch. The album was produced by Gabriel Mekler and engineered by Dave Hassinger. In 1971 this band had two hits, "Cool Aid" (US No. 29, US R&B Singles No. 14)[3][4] and "Funky L.A." (US R&B Singles No. 45).[4]

Humphrey was one of the drummers on Marvin Gaye's album Let's Get It On.[5] He also recorded with Steely Dan,[6] Frank Zappa, Jimmy Smith, Al Kooper, Jackie DeShannon, Natalie Cole, Albert King, Quincy Jones, Dusty Springfield, Jean-Luc Ponty, Michael Franks, Maria Muldaur, Marc Bolan and many others.[7]

Humphrey was the featured drummer for the Lawrence Welk orchestra and Welk television show from 1976 to 1982.


As leader[edit]

  • Supermellow (Blue Thumb, 1973)
  • America, Wake Up (Blue Thumb, 1974)
  • Paul Humphrey and the Cool-Aid Chemists (Lizard, 1971)
  • Cochise (ABC, 1974)
  • The Drum Session (Philips, 1975)
  • The Drum Session Vol. 2 (Philips, 1977)
  • Me and My Drums (Stanson, 1979)
  • Paul Humphrey Sextet (Discovery, 1981)

As sideman[edit]

With Mel Brown

  • Chicken Fat (Impulse!, 1967)
  • The Wizard (Impulse!, 1968)
  • Eighteen Pounds of Unclean Chitlins and Other Greasy Blues Specialities (ABC, 1973)

With Ron Eschete

  • Mo' Strings Attached (Jazz Alliance, 1993)
  • Rain or Shine (Concord, 1995)
  • Soft Winds (Concord, 1996)

With Four Tops

With Eddie Harris

With Gene Harris

  • The 3 Sounds (Blue Note, 1971)
  • Nature's Way (Jam & Tapes, 1984)
  • A Little Piece of Heaven (Concord, 1993)
  • Funky Gene's (Concord, 1994)
  • Brotherhood (Concord, 1995)
  • It's the Real Soul (Concord, 1996)
  • In His Hands (Concord, 1997)

With Richard "Groove" Holmes

  • Welcome Home (World Pacific, 1968)
  • Workin' On a Groovy Thing (World Pacific, 1969)
  • X-77 (World Pacific, 1969)

With Quincy Jones

  • Smackwater Jack (A&M, 1971)
  • $ (Reprise, 1972)
  • Body Heat (A&M, 1974)
  • I Heard That!! (A&M, 1976)

With Charles Kynard

With Les McCann

With Blue Mitchell

With Freddy Robinson

  • The Coming Atlantis (World Pacific, 1969)
  • Hot Fun in the Summertime (Liberty, 1970)
  • At the Drive-in (Enterprise, 1972)

With T-Bone Walker

With Gerald Wilson

With others


  1. ^ a b Paul Humphrey Sextet liner notes
  2. ^ Ron Wynn (1935-10-10). "Paul Humphrey | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  3. ^ Paul Humphrey & the Cool Aid Chemists Billboard Singles, AllMusic
  4. ^ a b Paul Humphrey Billboard Singles, AllMusic
  5. ^ "Let's Get It On - Marvin Gaye | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  6. ^ "The Drummers of Steely Dan". 1998-08-25. Archived from the original on 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  7. ^ "Paul Humphrey". 1935-10-10. Retrieved 2014-05-28.

External links[edit]