Q&A With Cookie Jones – Life In The Music Business

Cookie Jones, 67 from Worthing, is a session drummer and percussionist with over 50 years experience. Whilst being accompanied by many famous artists, he gives us a scoop of his life in the music industry.

What influenced you to take up drumming?

My family have always been in the music business. My biggest influence was my brother as he always played drums. I used to get into serious trouble as I got hold of his drums when he went out – I was five. I got my first drum kit when I was seven.

Is there something you would’ve done differently in your drumming career?

No, the only thing I probably should’ve concentrated on was reading music. I had this attitude of I’m a jazz player and I don’t need to read. I can read reasonably well – enough to get by in a session, but I’m not like those drummers who you put a chart up in front of them and they’ll play backwards, sideways, turn it upside down.

Which musician inspired you the most, and why?

Well, when it comes to drummers, Buddy Rich and a guy called Elvin Jones. Elvin was a black drummer, one of the greatest jazz drummers of all time. And the other one, who I was lucky enough to have two lessons with, was a guy called Philly Joe Jones. Philly was well known for his brush playing.

What’s your most memorable moment with a famous musician?

A few years ago, I played congas with a tribute band at the Isle of Wight Festival, on the main stage. After we came off, one guy who told me I did a great job earlier came over and started chatting. You know your heart is still pounding after playing in front of thousands – you don’t recognise anyone. I suddenly realised that it was Paul McCartney. We spoke a few times, went out for a drink and to the studio in his house. He told me “I’m gonna do an album, if it all works out, I’d like you to come on it and play congas”.

What do you think of music nowadays?

Nowadays, in the last twenty years, you don’t have to be a musician to make a record. You can go and switch your computer on, press a couple of buttons and you’ve made a record. There’s some very good musicians around, but when I hear some modern songs on the radio I think ‘can we hear a tune?’

Do you think it’s possible to make a living being a full-time musician?

It’s very hard, but it is possible. But I’ve always had this opinion where you need something – just to fall back on, because the music business is notorious, you could be working six nights one week, and then for the next two weeks you’re doing nothing.

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