British Invasion Session Legend Passes Away

British Rock Session Legend Bobby Graham Dead At 69

By Andy Doerschuk Published September 16, 2009

After suffering with stomach cancer for the past four months, British session drummer Bobby Graham died at Isabel Hospice in Welwyn Garden City on Monday, September 14. He was 69.

Largely unrecognized beyond the London session scene, Graham nonetheless played an enormous role during the British invasion movement of the early ’60s. Working alongside such other notable session hotshots as Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and Big Jim Sullivan, Graham reportedly recorded 15,000 records in his lifetime, including “You Really Got Me” by The Kinks, “Gloria” by Them, “Downtown” by Petula Clark, and “I Only Want To Be With You” by Dusty Springfield. He also enjoyed the curious distinction of turning down Brian Epstein’s offer to join The Beatles before Ringo Starr was given the position, because the band wasn’t yet famous enough to tear him away from his session work.

After a successful decade-long stretch as a record producer in the late-’60s/early-’70s, Graham struggled with alcoholism and, after becoming sober, eventually quit the music industry to work as a videographer. He briefly came out of retirement in 1998 to play drums with Ray Davies for the album Storyteller, and released Crazy Drums/Crazy Drummer – a compilation of his recorded work – in 2000. Graham is survived by his wife Belinda, son Shawn, and younger brother Ian.

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