Recently, I read a surprising statement somewhere (won’t say where) that Don Drummond was named to the Playboy All-Stars in 1964. This was the result of a readers’ poll that the magazine conducted annually. I was surprised, one, because I have never heard this or come across this before in my years of researching Don D., and two, because it would go against one of the major premises of my book, Don Drummond: The Genius and Tragedy of the World’s Greatest Trombonists, that a lack of recognition and acknowledgment of his talent, due to a variety of reasons that I outline in the book, contributed to his mental decline. So, I had to find out–was this true? Did I miss something this big? The answer was no.
I obtained a copy of that 1964 Playboy magazine, as well as one from 1965 in case the poll was taken in 1964 and published in 1965, and nada. Not one word about Don Drummond–not in the poll, nor in the excellent article (I was always told that Playboy had excellent articles! Ha ha) about the state of jazz that year in the U.S. and abroad. In fact, the articles give a snapshot, in a paragraph or two, of jazz worldwide and mention a few names, like Hugh Masekla, but no Jamaican at all. There is much editorial about the American jazz musicians overseas, and the jazz scene in Europe and Russia, but no Caribbean jazz is touched.
It is sad that I don’t see Don D’s name in these pages. He should have been here. He saw these lists, he saw the Downbeat articles, and it ate at him. His idols, J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding are here, and those he played with when they came to Jamaica, George Shearing and Dave Brubeck, are here too. Obviously I wanted to see that my argument was correct, that Don D was never treated fairly, but more than any selfish interest like that, I wanted to see that somewhere, sometime, Don Drummond was recognized. At least while he was alive.
Here are a few pages from those articles.