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Drummer Jimmy Copley Dies

Jimmy Copley / Facebook
Jimmy Copley / Facebook

British drummer Jimmy Copley, who performed with Tony Iommi, Paul Rodgers, Jeff Beck and many others, has died after a battle with leukemia, according to a Facebook post by his former M3 bandmate Tony Martin.

Martin wrote, “Sad to acknowledge the death of Jimmy Copley, drummer and all round great dude. Jimmy was in the band M3 with me but he played for many named artists …. Including Tony Iommi, and Paul Rodgers ….. He had such an accurate touch with drums that seemed effortless, Sad to hear leukemia took his life. Thoughts are with his family and others that knew him.”

According to University Hospital Bristol, Copley had been diagnosed with leukemia in 2015, and relapsed following a bone marrow transplant. He opted to discontinue chemotherapy.

Copley, who was born in London in 1953, was a session musician who had long played with Jeff Beck. In addition, he had stints with Graham Parker, Tears for Fears, the Pretenders and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, among many others.

In 2008, Copley released his first solo album Slap My Hand. The album featured performances by a huge array of artists, including Beck. He was known as the master of the open-handed drumming technique, which involves not crossing hands when playing the high hat and snare drum simultaneously.

This morning, Copley’s Facebook page quickly filled with remembrances from friends and other musicians, with many calling him one of the best drummers and people with whom they’ve ever worked.

Copley’s kindness showed even in his final days, when, according to the University Hospital Bristol, his hospital room was transformed into a temporary recording studio so that he and friends could record an EP to benefit the Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre and Royal United Hospital in Bristol.

In addition to Copley, the EP Psyche Funk features Anthony Head, Robert Hart of Bad Company, Chris White of Dire Straits, and Charlie Jones (who played with Robert Plant and Page and Plant.)

“I’m making the EP to give something back to the wonderful people at the NHS wards that have treated me,” Copley said. It gave me something to aim at during the dark days. I feel good about leaving some new music behind.”

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