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Rufus "Speedy" Jones

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Rufus "Speedy" Jones
Born(1936-05-27)May 27, 1936
Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.
DiedApril 25, 1990(1990-04-25) (aged 53)
Years active1950s–1990
Formerly ofCount Basie, Duke Ellington, Maynard Ferguson, Lionel Hampton, Red Allen, James Brown

Rufus "Speedy" Jones (May 27, 1936 – April 25, 1990) was an American jazz drummer from Charleston, South Carolina.

Starting out on trumpet, Jones switched to drums at the age of 13. He worked with Lionel Hampton in 1954 before being drafted.[1][2] While stationed at Fort Jackson, Jones played in a quintet every Saturday night at the black United Service Organization clubhouse in Columbia. He later played with Red Allen and Maynard Ferguson's Orchestra (1959–1963). He led a quintet from 1963 to 1964, producing for Cameo Records his only album as a leader. Jones worked with Count Basie and Woody Herman in the mid-1960s and backed that up with Duke Ellington in the latter half of the decade.[3]

Jones (various accounts concur) was forced to put down his sticks in 1973, due to the debilitating effects of early-onset arthritis. He died in 1990, after reputedly having spent his later years working as a janitor.

Rufus' son, Lebrew, was sentenced in 1989 to 22 years to life for the murder of Michaelanne Hall, a prostitute in New York City. He was released on parole on November 19, 2009 after significant doubts were raised about his guilt.[4]



As leader


As sideman


With Count Basie

  • Big Band Scene '65 (Roulette, 1965)
  • Arthur Prysock/Count Basie (Verve, 1966)
  • Basie's Beat (Verve, 1967)

With Duke Ellington

With Maynard Ferguson

With others


  1. ^ Klauber, Bruce (August 2011). "Rufus "Speedy" Jones". Modern Drummer. md381cs (August 2011): Page 90. Retrieved 24 April 2023.
  2. ^ Wolfson, Harvey. "HARVEY WOLFSON AND HIS GRETSCH DRUMS". Gretsch Drums. Retrieved 24 April 2023.
  3. ^ Barnelle, Robert (1983). "Rufus "Speedy" Jones". Modern Drummer. Retrieved 24 April 2023.
  4. ^ Pertel, John. "Waiting 22 years for this moment". Times Herald-Record. Retrieved 4 May 2011.