Bill Eyden - drum master...
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Bill Eyden - drum master...
Born in 1930 Bill Eyden became, in the 1950s, one of Britain's finest modern jazz drummers. Undemonstrative in style he wielded a ferocious beat deployed with masterley technique that welded a conventional piano-bass-drums rhythym section into a cohesive entity.

He turned professional in 1952 with the Ivor and Basil Kirchin band and within a couple of years he was working with Ronnie Scott and Tubby Hayes not only in the clubs but in the studios as well. It was no surprise that when Scott and Hayes formed the Jazz Couriers Bill Eyden was chosen as drummer. When the Couriers folded in 1959 he worked with The Vic Ash-Harry Klein Quintet who supported Miles Davis on his first British tour in 1960. As the jazz public dwindled in the sixties Eyden worked in rock and rhythm and blues groups before joining the Stan Tracey trio, who were resident at Ronnie Scott's club, nightly accompanying the parade of American stars.
see also the following discographies: Ronnie Scott, Dizzy Reece, Jimmy Deuchar, Vic Ash, Harry Klein, Tubby Hayes, Dickie Hawdon, Keith Christie, Others.

The following is an extract from an obituary published in The Independent on November 3rd, 2004...
Jazz drummer at the heart of British bebop
William James Eyden, drummer: born Hounslow, Middlesex May 4th, 1930; twice married (one daughter, and one son deceased); died Isleworth, Middlesex 15 October 2004.
Eyden was a regular in the bands of people like Tubby Hayes, Ronnie Scott and Harry South and as such was at the very heart of British bebop. He was so versatile that he also became a first-call drummer for much of the entertainment field and, for example, played regularly in the Ray Ellington Quartet when it worked on The Goon Show. Eyden can be seen on the video of the reunion programme The Last Goon Show of All.
But, like Phil Seamen, Allan Ganley and others of his kind, he was a drum master who could play anything, and Eyden accompanied and recorded with blues names such as Long John Baldry, Alexis Korner and Georgie Fame.

His first professional job was in 1952 with the forward-looking big band led by Ivor and Basil Kirchin. Ivor Kirchin had been injured in a car crash in 1951 and his son Basil, himself a drummer, fronted the band. When Ivor returned to the band Eyden left, but had no trouble finding regular work with the groups of Ray Kirkwood, Johnny Rogers and in late 1953 on television with the pianist Steve Race. That same year saw Eyden as the house drummer at the Studio 51 jazz club, where his colleagues included the trumpeter Terry Brown, the tenor saxophonist Jimmy Skidmore and the bassist Joe Muddel.
During the same period, 1953 to 1954, he was drummer in the "commercial" bands of Johnny Rogers, Roy Fox and Harry Roy.
In 1955 Eyden played the first of his many stretches with the various bands led by the tenor saxophonist Tubby Hayes. His work with Hayes, particularly in the Jazz Couriers, co-led by Hayes and Ronnie Scott, called for great fire and dexterity. His drumming was particularly musical in the way that he was able to drive a band and make a lot of noise, but always with discipline and never interfering with the sound of the soloists. A regular at Ronnie Scott's Club, he accompanied many visiting American musicians as a member of Stan Tracey's Trio. From 1970 onwards he played in a variety of jazz groups including those led by Dick Morrissey and Bobby Wellins, and returned several times to Hayes.

Eyden was a regular member of the Bebop Preservation Society, led by Bill Le Sage through the Eighties and in recent years until the onset of a lengthy illness he played in the quintets of Jack Honeyborne and Ken Baldock.

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