Tommy Benford

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Tommy Benford
Birth nameThomas Benford
Born(1905-04-19)April 19, 1905
Charleston, West Virginia
DiedMarch 24, 1994(1994-03-24) (aged 88)
Mount Vernon, New York
Instrument(s)Drum kit

Thomas Benford (April 19, 1905 – March 24, 1994)[1][2][3] was an American jazz drummer.


Tommy Benford was born in Charleston, West Virginia.[1][2] He and his older brother, tuba player Bill Benford, were both orphans who studied music at the Jenkins Orphanage in Charleston, South Carolina.[4] He started playing in an orphanage band and continued with the drums for the next 60 years.[5] He went on tour with the school band, traveling with them to England in 1914.[4]

In 1920, he was working with the Green River Minstrel Show.[4] Benford recorded with Jelly Roll Morton[6] in 1928 and 1930. He also played with Duke Ellington, Fats Waller and Eddie South.[4][6] From 1932 till 1941 Benford lived in Europe, where in 1937 he participated in one of the most memorable recording sessions ever in Paris, with Coleman Hawkins, Benny Carter, Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli.

Benford died on March 24, 1994, at Mount Vernon Hospital in Mount Vernon, New York.[2]


  1. ^ a b Carr, Peter; Vollmer, Al; Wright, Laurie. "Have Drum, Will Travel: An Interview with Tommy Benford". Monrovia Sound Studio. Storyville. Retrieved 2012-06-20.
  2. ^ a b c Watrous, Peter (1994-03-29). "Tommy Benford, Jazz Dummer, 88; Played With Stars". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-20.
  3. ^ Benford gives April 19, 1905 as his date of birth, and obituaries indicate he died at age 88. allmusic gives 1895 as year of birth.
  4. ^ a b c d Chadbourne, Eugene. Tommy Benford at AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-06-20.
  5. ^ "Tommy Benford, 88". Newsday. March 30, 1994.
  6. ^ a b "Jazz At Gravesite…Fulfill Wish 68 Years Later". The Western Queens Gazette. 1985-04-10. Retrieved 2012-03-22.