Posts Tagged ‘crissy lee’

Crissy Lee Part Two

In last month’s feature Crissy described her musical upbringing as a Salvation Army drummer from the age of 4, training up for playing in The Ivy Benson Band and her subsequent love for big band music. ‘Female Drummers Part 6’ took us up to the most exciting time of her early career – when her band The Beat Chicks were about to support The Beatles on tour in Spain…

How did you feel when you were told you would be supporting The Beatles?

I went all jelly like ‘cos at the time I thought Paul was the best thing since sliced bread. I thought he was gorgeous! We did four gigs and they had to do the concerts in the Spanish bull rings because there were no other venues big enough for the capacity of people. We flew with them in their private jet and we would be driven in a chauffeur driven car following them in another chauffeur driven car with all the fans screaming at them and us cos we were big out there too.

What happened next?

We did shows with Cilla Black and then we came back to England and nobody knew us! After a while we just pottered about again doing this and that and tours of Germany. A couple of the girls had left and it was coming to the end of its phase. Ivy was desperate to have me back. She was just about to start doing a big tour and lots of TV programmes and she said, ‘Crissy we’re going to need you on this, we’re going to be playing with some big stars’. So I played for 18 months or 2 years with Ivy. When I left Ivy I thought I could form my own band, apart from doing lots of gigs or deps for other people. I’ve mostly set up my own stuff really cos you want to do your own style.



Crissy Lee Part One

I could listen to Crissy Lee talk for hours. She is a pioneer for female drummers in the UK and Europe, recently celebrating 51 years in the music business, and has plenty of anecdotes to show for it. Crissy has been drumming since the age of 4, when she showed a remarkable talent for the instrument. In spite of falling in love with drumming at a time when women drummers were practically unheard of, Crissy’s career has taken her all over the world where she has had number one hits, supported The Beatles, been praised by Buddy Rich, and more recently been one of Frank Skinner’s ‘Skinerettes’ on his chat show, amongst many other highlights. Her story is so unusual that there is even a possible biography on the cards.

It all began in 1940’s Colchester when her factory working father brought home a pair of drum sticks…

What inspired you to play the drums?

It sort of just happened. My father brought home these drum sticks and started doing a little tapping on the side of the chair, much to my mother’s dislike, because they had wooden arms in those days. It was something called ‘The parade of the toy soldier’. And I, a very excitable little girl, wanted a go and picked up the sticks but instead of doing straight single sticking I just put a couple of ruffs in there. He called my mum from the kitchen and it was sheer amazement because I was always tiny, it looked like a two and a half year old doing this. It took me over and from that moment I couldn’t put those sticks down.

You came from a very musical family

My dad’s family were brass players because they came from a Salvation Army background and so as a child I was a little Salvationist. I loved the music; it was jolly. My mum’s side are all pianists and violinists. So at four and a half I was playing the side drum, as they called it then, in a Salvation Army junior band in Colchester. There’s a lovely picture of me at about eight years old standing next to my drum with my little Salvation Army beret on. I was absolutely enthralled because it was quite a big band with trombones, trumpets, horns and things. I loved it and I just naturally did all the rhythms, the 2/4, the 6/8 and the marches because I was brought up with all that. It was a wonderful start for a technique for a drummer because all I had was a snare so you have to work it all. I wasn’t shown or told or had lessons, I just made my own way but that’s never let me down.