Kenny Clare

Last updated
Kenny Clare
Birth nameKenny Clare
Born(1929-06-08)8 June 1929
Leytonstone, London
Died11 January 1985(1985-01-11) (aged 55)
Genres Jazz
Years active1947-1985
Kenny Clare.jpg
Jazz drummer Jimmy French (left) w. Kenny Clare (right), (Penmare Hotel, Hayle, Cornwall, UK, 16 April 1984) Kenny Clare 2.jpg
Jazz drummer Jimmy French (left) w. Kenny Clare (right), (Penmare Hotel, Hayle, Cornwall, UK, 16 April 1984)

Kenny Clare (8 June 1929 – 11 January 1985) was a British jazz drummer. He should not be confused with Kenny Clarke (also a jazz drummer), in whose band he played.



Born in Leytonstone, London, in 1929 Clare learnt to play the drums aged 13. In 1947 he joined the Royal Air Force and played with various service bands. He played with Oscar Rabin on UK radio in his early 20s. Following this, he played with Jack Parnell and then with the Johnny Dankworth Orchestra in 1955 and remained with this orchestra for five years until September, 1960. He also worked with the Dudley Moore Trio. In the 1960s he played with Ted Heath and Ronnie Stephenson, and played in the studios as a member of Sounds Orchestral. [1]

He stood in for Kenny Clarke from 1963-1966 in the Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band when Clarke was unavailable. But from 1967 through 1971 (when the band folded) Clare was a regular paired with Clarke in what became a two-drummer band for performances, concerts, and at least 15 recordings issued by several labels. He also accompanied singers including Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, and Cleo Laine. On 5 December 1971, he did a concert at Queen Elizabeth Hall with fellow drummers Buddy Rich and Louie Bellson. He continued to work in the 1980s predominately again with Johnny Dankworth and singer Cleo Laine. He visited Hayle in Cornwall on 16 April 1984 and performed a 'drumming duel' with former professional and local drummer Jimmy French (photo shown) at the Penmare Hotel, Hayle, Cornwall. [2]

Clare worked extensively for radio, television, film, and commercials. He served as secretary to the International Drummers Association. [3]


Clare had been admitted to Westminster Hospital, London in November 1984 and had several operations for the removal of cancer from the esophagus. He died on 11 January 1985. The singer Tony Bennett held a benefit concert after his death as a tribute to Clare who was a big fan of Bennett. He is survived by his wife, a freelance London-based singer, Margery Dawe. Margery was a former singer with the Don Smith Orchestra in the 1950s. His two adopted twin daughters both died from breast cancer. His enthusiasm never drained, always devoting time to other drummers and discussing techniques and the instrument. Even while in the hospital for 2 months, he kept his practice pads and drumsticks next to his bed. In November 2015, just over 30 years after his death in 1985, he was honoured with the installation of a Blue Plaque on his east London home in Richmond Road, Leytonstone, London. [4]


With the Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band

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  1. Kenny Clare Drummer www, Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  2. Kenny Clare with Kenny Clarke Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  3. Kenny Clare Biography Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  4. Celebration of Kenny Clare with a blue plaque Retrieved 28 May 2020.