Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

John Guerin Dies

John Guerin, a producer, composer and drummer whose work can be heard on countless albums in both jazz and pop, died Mon., Jan. 5 of complications from the flu at West Hills Hospital in West Hills, Calif. He was 64.

Born in Hawaii in 1939, Guerin grew up in San Diego. He taught himself how to play drums and at the age of 20 began performing professionally with clarinetist Buddy DeFranco. After about two years with DeFranco Guerin took his talents to Los Angeles. Guerin played in L.A. with pianists George Shearing and Thelonious Monk (he appears on the Columbia album Monk’s Blues). Over the years he would play with Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Gene Ammons, Oscar Peterson, Jimmy Heath, Ray Charles, Sonny Rollins and other jazz masters.

Guerin’s versatility on the drum kit eventually led him to playing on rock, pop and country sessions. He is one of the most recorded drummers of all time and his discography includes albums by the Byrds, Frank Zappa, George Harrison, the Association, Harry Nilsson, Gram Parsons and a number of discs by Joni Mitchell.

Being based in L.A. gave Guerin the opportunity to work in film and television, which he began doing in 1968-that’s him on the drums in the themes for Hawaii Five-O and the original Jeopardy. The soundtrack to Clint Eastwood’s Charlie Parker movie Bird features Guerin playing accompaniment to old Parker solos alongside Ron Carter, Ray Brown and Jon Faddis. Guerin’s most recent performances for the big screen can be heard in the Jack Nicholson/Diane Keaton film Something’s Gotta Give.

Guerin is survived by his wife, Michelle, an adopted son, a sister, a brother and two grandsons.

The family requests that donations be sent “In Memory of John Guerin” to his favorite charity, the Nevada S.P.C.A, 4800 West Dewey Drive, Suite D, Las Vegas, NV, 89118.

Originally Published