Drummer for Little Richard and James Brown dies aged 86

2 August 2021, 09:14

Little Richard
Little Richard Legends. Picture: PA

Charles Connor worked with music greats from the 1950s onwards.

Drummer Charles Connor, who performed with music greats including Little Richard, James Brown and Sam Cooke, has died at the age of 86.

Connor’s daughter, Queenie Connor Sonnefeld, said her father died peacefully in his sleep on Saturday while under hospice care at his home in Glendale, California.

She said her father had been diagnosed with normal pressure hydrocephalus, a brain disorder that causes fluid build-up.

Ms Connor Sonnefeld said Connor was a “great father” who was always positive and a person who never gave up on his dreams.

“He was one of those drummers that was a bricklayer of creating that rock ‘n’ roll genre,” she said.

“He played behind so many legendary musicians in the 1950s. He was a loving grandfather and was very proud of his family and took a lot of pride in his contributions to rock ‘n’ roll.”

Connor began playing drums at the age of 12. Three years later, he started his professional career when Professor Longhair, a singer and pianist, hired him as a last-minute replacement for the 1950 Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

After Connor turned 18, he joined Richard’s original road band, The Upsetters.

The band appeared in several popular feature films including The Girl Can’t Help It with Jayne Mansfield, along with Don’t Knock the Rock and Mr Rock ‘n’ Roll.

During his career, Connor toured with various musicians such as James Brown, Jackie Wilson and the original Coasters.

He also received a certificate of special recognition from US congresswoman Maxine Waters in 1994.

Connor released his motivational book Don’t Give Up Your Dreams: You Can Be a Winner Too! in 2008. He was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame two years later.

In 2013, Connor released an EP, Still Knockin. At the time of his death, he was working on his autobiographical documentary.

By Press Association