Ed Shaughnessy, who played drums with Doc Severinsen’s Tonight Show band for nearly 30 years, died on Friday at the age of 84. The Los Angeles Times reports that the drummer had suffered a heart attack at his home in Calabasas, California.
Shaughnessy joined the band for Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show in 1963, after working for years as a CBS staff musician on the Steve Allen and Garry Moore shows. He remained with Severinsen’s band until 1992.
Even before gaining the exposure brought on by the television gigs, Shaughnessy found a place playing alongside big names like Billie Holiday, Bennie Goodman and Count Basie. In addition to his prolific jazz career, the Tonight Show work brought Shaughnessy together in performances with a range of rock, pop, soul and country stars including Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard. The trumpeter and band-leader Don Ellis once said of Shaughnessy: “Ed’s one of the only guys I know from his generation who’s open-minded enough to try something new.”
Shaughnessy, who was married to Ilene Woods, the voice of Disney’s Cinderella, is survived by his son, Daniel Shaughnessy, along with three grandchildren.