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91-Year-Old Female Drummer Stars in New Video


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Our good friend Allee Willis has released a video where she performs with 91-year-old Jerrie Thill, who despite her oxygen tank, still pounds away at the skins. In fact, she has performed every Sunday at the El Cid Restaurant in Hollywood for the last 24 years. Here's the video:


Between 1935 and 1938, she was the vaudeville leader of an eight piece all-girl swing band that toured on the Pantages and Gus Sun Times Circuits. Just before World War II she was the drummer with the Hollywood Sweethearts and during the early war years part of the Villa Maree Trio (a supper club) in Dubuque. The later war years found her again in Chicago as a vocalist with the Danny Fergueson Society Orchestra and in 1945 she relocated to Southern California where she appeared as the house drummer at the Flamingo Night Club in Hollywood (1945-1952) and later with the Ada Leonard All-Girl Orchestra during their West Coast tours (1953-1954). Jerrie continued on the road with the Biltmore Girls during the mid-1950s and for the next three decades was a much in-demand drummer and vocalist with small jazz ensembles. In 1974, she joined Peggy Gilbert's Dixie Belles and for the next twenty years performed with that ensemble throughout Southern California including an appearance on the Johnny Carson Show and guest appearances on network television shows such as Golden Girls, Married with Children and Trapper John.

As for Allee, this mistress of funk wrote "September," "In The Stone" and "Boogie Wonderland" for Earth, Wind & Fire, as well as many other hits. She's kind of brilliant and gets bored easily, so she paints, makes music videos, and dabbles in non-linear songwriting. Check out her Songfacts interview:


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