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© Lebrecht Music & Arts/Corbis
Tony Williams was one of the last great jazz drummers, whose career began at the tender age of 17 when Miles Davis picked him to play in his band.
After five years with Davis – during which time he played on great albums such as E.S.P. alongside Davis, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter as part of Miles’ ‘second great quintet’ – Williams went on to form his own Lifetime band, whose innovative fusion of heavy rock and jazz was ahead of its time.
Tony Williams tragically passed away in 1997, aged just 51, but to this day remains massively influential, a true drumming legend, unique both as a performer and composer. Back in 1990, Tony had this to say about working with Miles.
“He was great. I found him… mixed. He’s a very strong person, a very strong man, he has a very dynamic personality. I’m privileged and honoured to have spent those years of my life with him – they were good formative years.
“Before I met Miles he was my idol. I was always interested in and affected by music, and Miles Davis’ sound was, and still is, very unique. His music touched me very deeply. By the time I got to work with Miles I felt that it was something I was supposed to be doing, so my attitude changed a bit, I felt the best prepared for the job. Looking back on it I think, ‘Wow, what did I do? That was really something that I got into.’ But at the time I thought it was quite natural.”
Here's Tony with Miles in 1963.