Sandy was one of the most on-demand drummers during the late 1950s and early 1960s. His catchy, hard-hitting style can you hear on countless hits from that era. He was a session drummer that loved by many musicians. He also had a successful solo career, scoring several charting singles with his own band.
Sandy Nelson’s Life
Sander Lloyd Nelson was an American Drummer who was born on December 1, 1938, in Santa Monica, California and passed away on February 14, 2022, in Las Vegas. He was the son of Lloyd and Lydia Nelson. Young Sander attended high school with recording stars Kim Fowley, Jan Berry and Dean Torrence. Later that year, or in 1959 specifically, Fowley produced “Geronimo”, which was performed by Nelson’s band, the Renegades. It’s counted as Sandy Nelson’s first recording.
Nelson’s Career as Session Drummer
Nelson gained so much respect as a session drummer. He played drums on several hit singles such as Teddy Bears‘ “To Know Him Is To Love Him” (1958), The Hollywood Argyles’ “Alley Oop” (1960) and Kathy Young and the Innocents’ “A Thousand Stars” (1960). Nelson had a big break in 1959 when he joined Ritchie Valens‘ backing band. His drumming can be heard on Valens’ classic hit “La Bamba.” After that, he was a session drummer in some other hits like Gary Lewis & the Playboys‘ “This Diamond Ring” and Jan & Dean‘s “Dead Man’s Curve.”
Nelson is named one of the most respected session drummers, proven by his achievements in this area. In 1959, he had a hit instrumental song titled “Teen Beat”, which ranked number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. The record sold over one million copies and was awarded Gold Disc. He got other hits after signing a contract with Imperial Records. With that label, he gained two more Top 40 hits on the same chart, “Let There Be Drums”, which went to number 7, and “Drums Are My Beat”.
In 1961, the British music magazine, NME, reported that “Let There Be Drums” had reached the Top 10 in the United Kingdom and the United States. Sandy Nelson played these three hits’ drum parts. Meanwhile, for the guitar part, it was played by co-writer Richard Podolor, who later became a songwriter and record producer. These numbers show that he got so many well-known hits.
Sandy Nelson and His Achievements
Not only his achievements on charts, but he also got many honours from music critics and musicians. Undeniably, he’s one of the most acclaimed Rock Drummers of the 60s who released many solo instrumental Top 40 hits as well as more than 30 CD releases.
Nelson was an in-demand drummer in his peak days. He regularly became a recording artist throughout the 1960s. So many great musicians have collaborated with him, including Herb Alpert, Bobby Darin, and The Beach Boys. Sandy Nelson, with his drumming, can be heard on such classic tracks as The Beach Boys’ “Fun, Fun, Fun” and Alpert’s “A Taste of Honey.”
Drummer Who Brings the Party
Nelson died at 83 due to complications of a stroke he suffered in 2017. Despite his departure from this world, his contribution to the world of music is something to remember. Whether playing on a classic hit or delivering a dynamic solo performance, Sandy Nelson is one of the best drummers who always brings the party.