Living with Great Sounds of Unknown Drummers

Remembering+Billy+Stix+Nicks

Photo courtesy WNDU

SKF NOTE: There was a moment, after deciding in 1982, to write a History of Rock Drumming, I realized how huge a task was ahead of me. Much later, there was a moment I knew there probably would always be missing pieces of rock drumming history, blanks never filled in.

I remembered those moments this week listening back to, while digitizing, a few of my 1982 recorded backgrounder interviews with music industry people and musicians — like Henry Glover. And also, I remembered while reading this news story about drummer Billy “Stix” Nicks who, said tv station WNDU, “played the drums for Junior Walker and the All-Stars….”

Great, I thought. Billy “Sticks” Nicks’s name is new to me. One more piece of the Motown drummers’ puzzle?

I learned that Mr. Nicks and Jr. Walker played together in a local band. Jr. Walker went on to form his classic Jr. Walker and the All Stars with James Graves on drums.

According to Billy Nicks’s web site, “Nicks also played and recorded for the prestigious Motown/Soul record label with “Jr. Walker and The All Stars” for the 1965 LP release, “Roadrunner”, on songs: “How Sweet Is To Be Loved By You”, “Pucker Up Buttercup” and title track “Roadrunner”. Unfortunately, due to record company and production issues Nicks never received documented credits or royalties for the Motown “Roadrunner” release.

Searching a bit more, two web sources cite James Graves, now deceased, as the drummer on all the songs Mr. Nicks’s web site credits to him.

And so it goes, just as I remembered researching in 1982 and beyond. I still think it would be valuable to know the drummers on all recordings, but especially the classic recordings.

Yet as recently as this week I am reminded that with many recordings we may have to live with the great sounds of unknown drummers.

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