Ted McKenna

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Ted McKenna
McKenna performing on 29 November 2009
McKenna performing on 29 November 2009
Background information
Birth nameEdward McKenna
Born(1950-03-10)10 March 1950
Lennoxtown, Stirlingshire, Scotland
Died19 January 2019(2019-01-19) (aged 68)
GenresHard rock, blues-rock, progressive rock, glam rock, heavy metal, rock and roll
Occupation(s)Musician, educator
InstrumentsDrums, percussion, bass, piano
Years active1966–2019

Edward McKenna (10 March 1950 – 19 January 2019), was a Scottish drummer who played with The Sensational Alex Harvey Band,[1] Rory Gallagher,[2] The Greg Lake Band,[3] and The Michael Schenker Group.[4] He also toured with Ian Gillan for a short period in 1990, alongside fellow former SAHB member, bassist Chris Glen. He lectured in Applied Arts at North Glasgow College from 1996–2011.[5]

Life and career[edit]

McKenna was born in Lennoxtown, Stirlingshire, Scotland. He was educated at St Patrick's High School, Coatbridge. His studies included double bass lessons at school, several piano lessons, and a year under Glasgow big band veteran, Lester Penman. He was the drummer of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band from 1972 to 1978, and then worked with artists including Rory Gallagher, 1978–1981; Greg Lake & Gary Moore in The Greg Lake Band, 1981–83; the Michael Schenker Group (MSG), 1981–84; Bugatti & Musker, 1982; Ian Gillan; and worked on a solo album for Nazareth singer Dan McCafferty in 1975.

He had his own band after his time in MSG, called McKenna's Gold. Formed at the end of 1986, this band played together for just over two years and featured Charles Bowyer/vocals, Julian Hutson-Saxby/guitar, Alex Bowler/bass, and Steve Franklin/keyboards. Hutson-Saxby later played guitar with the reformed Sensational Alex Harvey Band after Zal Cleminson's departure in 2008.

With SAHB, he released 8 studio albums and one live album between 1972 & 1977:

Framed, Next, The Impossible Dream, Tomorrow Belongs To Me, 'Live', Penthouse Tapes, SAHB Stories, Fourplay (Without Alex), and Rock Drill. SAHB split before the release of Rock Drill and from there, all members apart from Hugh McKenna became 'The ZAL Band' for a short period in 1978/79 before calling it a day and going their separate ways.

Ted then joined Blues guitarist Rory Gallagher from 1979 - 1981 and recorded the following albums:

Photo Finish, Stage Struck (Live Album), and Top Priority.

Ted left Rory Gallagher to join Greg Lake & Gary Moore and recorded two albums:

Greg Lake (1981), and Maneouvres (1982). This 'super group' only lasted a year before disbanding and from here Ted joined up with Chris Glen in The Michael Schenker Group.

With MSG, Ted recorded the following albums:

Assault Attack (1983), Rock Will Never Die (Live Album 1984), and Built To Destroy (1984).

Ted left MSG mid 84 and performed as a session musician for various artists such as Billy Rankin (Nazareth) before joining up with Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan on his solo album tour of 'Naked Thunder' in 1990 - again working with SAHB Bassist Chris Glen, and ex SAHB keyboardist Tommy Eyre and they recorded a live album in London Ian Gillan: Live In Concert.

In 1992, McKenna and Zal Cleminson formed The Party Boys, an idea McKenna had in Australia whilst working with Womack and Womack. They recruited keyboardist Ronnie Leahy from Stone The Crows, and invited well-known rock singers such as Stevie Doherty, Fish, and Dan McCafferty. Soon after, the band reunited with SAHB keyboardist Hugh McKenna, Ted's cousin, and reformed SAHB. This line-up included Stevie Doherty from Zero Zero and Peter Goes To Partick on vocals. They released the album Live In Glasgow '93. They disbanded in 1995 after a final gig with Maggie Bell at The Kings Theatre in Glasgow.

From 1996 - 2011, Ted lectured in Applied Arts at North Glasgow College in Springburn where he taught students about the music industry and how to be a professional musician. Some of Ted's students include drummer Scott Cowie & keyboardist David Cowan who both were part of SAHB guitarist Zal Cleminson's Sin Dogs in 2017. He also taught Glasvegas lead guitarist & vocalist James Allen and Australian drummer Jamie Thomson from the band Cayto.

In 2004, McKenna reformed SAHB which would be for the final time with remaining members Zal Cleminson, Hugh McKenna, and Chris Glen, but this time introduced vocalist Max Maxwell, formerly of The Shamen, and Edith & The Ladies. Their farewell tour was so successful they continued to tour between 2004–2009, and performed some lucrative festivals which include The Wickerman Festival and The Sweden Rock Festival in 2006.

The tours were: 2004 - Brick By Brick, 2005 - Zalvation, 2006 - Dogs of War, 2007 - Hail Vibrania.

In this time they released the live album Zalvation, which was the band's first official release since Rock Drill in 1977 with Alex Harvey. They also released a limited edition EP called DOGS OF WAR - THE BILSTON TEA PARTY EP. They performed tours in the UK, Europe and Australia, as well as two sell-out Christmas shows in 2006 and 2007 at the ABC in their hometown of Glasgow. In 2008, Cleminson left the band and retired from performing, and was replaced by guitarist Julian Hutson Saxby before disbanding permanently in 2008.

Also in 2008 Ted played on the Japanese Tour with MSG alongside Chris Glen promoting In the Midst of Beauty, but this was just for one tour.

In 2011, Ted retired from North Glasgow College and decided to get back out full time as a professional musician and was quoted by saying he wanted to go out Guns Blazing or Die with his boots on to basically get back to being what he instinctively is..and that's a musician first and foremost so it was in this year he was approached by former Rory band mate and bassist Gerry McAvoy to be part of the project BAND OF FRIENDS. Band of friends is a celebration of the music of Rory Gallagher featuring musician's who had played with him which took it away from being a 'tribute band' plus the fact they wrote and performed their own material also. On guitar was Marcel Scherpenzeel from Amsterdam, Holland.

This band won 'Best Blues Band of 2013' at the European Blues Awards. He won the 'Best Musician (performance)' award at the European Blues Awards 2015. Band of Friends released the following albums:

Too Much Is Not Enough Live & Kickin (Live Album) Repeat After Me

In 2018-2019 - Band Of Friends also worked with guitarist Davy Knowles who was a super Rory fan and has his own following in the US and he performed on 2 US Tour's with the band.

Although Ted was primarily known as a rock musician, he also worked with jazz guitarist John Etheridge, Juno Award-winning American/Canadian blues guitarist Amos Garrett, American soul duo Womack & Womack, guitar virtuoso Paul Rose, blues guitarist Gwyn Ashton, The Rhumboogie Orchestra, Frank O'Hagan, and Fish to name a few.

In 2016, McKenna and SAHB bass player Chris Glen reunited with Michael Schenker for Michael Schenker Fest, an anniversary line-up of all three original MSG vocalists (Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley) and also included Glasgow vocalist Doogie White (ex Rainbow & Richie Blackmore). The band also recorded a concert in this year in Tokyo and released the live DVD and double CD package Tokyo International Forum Hall A. In 2018, the studio album Resurrection was released. This was to be Ted's final studio album as on the 19th January 2019 he died during a routine hernia operation. He was 68 years old.

Michael Schenker dedicated his composition, the instrumental song Ascension, which he released in 2019 on the Michael Schenker Fest-album Revelation, to Ted McKenna. Schenker wrote in the booklet following words: „Dear friend and great drummer Ted. Thanks for everything. See you in heaven. Till then, keep on rocking. We miss you, we love you. Michael Schenker“. He also started the concerts on the MSG Universal-tour, start in april 2022, with this song and as he introduced on stage: „......in memory of Mister Ted McKenna“.

Ted was voted Scotland's Greatest Ever Drummer and influenced many musicians, not just drummers but other musicians due to his professional attitude, incredible musicianship and mostly his amazing personality and love of music.


1972 set-up

  • Hayman drum kit with 24 inch bass drum
  • 35-year-old 6 1/2 x 14 inch Premier Dominion snare drum.
  • 13 x 9, 14 x 10, 16 x 16 and 18 x 18 inch Hayman tom toms.
  • Avedis Zildjian 20 inch crash and 18 inch ride cymbals.
  • Hi hats are 15 inch with Avedis Zildjian on top and Paiste on bottom.
  • Sticks are C-Specials made by Bradleys of Glasgow.

2013 set-up

  • Pearl DLX
  • 22"x18" bass drum
  • 10"x8" tom
  • 12"x9" tom
  • 15"x10" tom
  • 16"x16" floor tom
  • 14"x6.5" Sensitone Elite snare drum
  • 4 x long boom cymbal stands.
  • Snare Stand – S-2000
  • Pearl Hi-Hat Stand – Eliminator – H-2000
  • Pearl Drum Pedal – Eliminator – P-2002C
  • Sabian Cymbals
  • 14” HHX X-Celerator Hats
  • 21” AAX Raw Bell Dry Ride 21"
  • 20" HHX X-Plosion Crash
  • 19” HHX X-Plosion Crash
  • 18” HHX X-Treme Crash
  • 16” AAX X-Plosion Fast Crash

Drum throne – Rock ’n’ Soc or Gibraltar


  1. ^ McGartland, Dino. "Ted McKenna: 'Remembering Rory'". Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  2. ^ McGartland, Dino. "Ted McKenna: 'Remembering Rory'". Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  3. ^ Welch, Chris. ""Birth Of A Band"". International Musician and Recording World: 28-29, 31. Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  4. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Alex Harvey: Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 February 2011.
  5. ^ McGartland, Dino. "Ted McKenna: 'Remembering Rory'". Retrieved 15 April 2020.

External links[edit]