Basic Background Info

Birth: February 21, 1926 - February 22, 2002
Location: Rochester, Kent, England
Band: The Syd Lawrence Orchestra, Ronnie Verrel Quintet
Genres: Jazz, Big Band
Instruments: Drums
Occupation: Musician


British drummer Ronald Thomas Verrell taught himself to play the drums as a young boy. He only ever took one lesson--from Max Abrams. During the World War I evacuation to Wales, Ronnie Verrell performed with organist Glan Evans and saxophonist Jack Morgan.

As a teenager, Ronnie Verrell worked with an impressive roster of musicians, including Claude Giddins and Johnny Claes. As an enlisted member of the armed services, Ronnie Verrell worked in the coal mines. After being discharged, he played with clarinetist Carl Barriteau. Ronnie Verrell soon found himself in Munich, Germany with Leslie Holmes and the Londonaires Dance Orchestra. Next, Ronnie Verrell returned to England and played with Cyril Stapleton for two years, until he was discovered by Ted Heath of the Ted Heath Orchestra. Ronnie Verrell played with them from 1951 to 1964. Taking his cues from Ronnie Stephenson, Jock Cummings, and Bobby Midgley, he moved on to Jack Parnellís ATV television orchestra while also recording in London studios regularly.

After relocating to the United States, Ronnie Verrell drummed for the hard-rocking Muppet character Animal of Jim Henson's The Muppets. Ronnie's experience as a jazz and dance band drummer helped him create Animalís wildly powerful sound. As Animal, Ronnie Verrell lost a drum-off with Buddy Rich, and Animal ultimately threw his miniature bass drum onto Rich's head.

Ronnie Verrell also performed with Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, Peggy Lee, Dusty Springfield, Syd Lawrence, and Engelbert Humperdinck. Ronnie Verrell formed his own quintet in 1995 and performed with them until 2001.

In November 2001, Ronnie Verrell suffered a fall down the stairs in his home. That February, his doctors began surgery on the crushed vertebrae, but complications forced them to cancel the procedure. He passed away about two weeks later as a result of a chest infection.


Album Year Album Name Album Band
1953 At the London Palladium, Vol. 1 Ted Heath
1957 Our Kind of Jazz Ted Heath
1966 Fever Ted Heath
1969 Heavy Blues Champion Jack Dupree
1969 Strawbs The Strawbs
1971 Changes John Williams
1975 Mystic Line Phil Everly
1975 Plant Life Herbie Flowers
1977 Albert Finney's Album Albert Finney
1977 Tea for Two Stephane Grappelli with Yehudi Menuhin
1981 Genius of Jazz Guitar Al Casey
1982 Best of Friends Jay McShann
1985 Al Casey Remembers King Curtis Al Casey
1985 Blue Skies Kiri Te Kanawa
1988 Menuhin & Grappelli Play Berlin, Kern, Porter & Rodge Yehudi Menuhin & Stephane Grappelli
1988 Menuhin and Grappelli Play Gershwin Yehudi Menuhin & Stephane Grappelli
1989 Strictly for the Birds Stephane Grappelli with Yehudi Menuhin
1994 Cannibale Dominique Dalcan
1996 Show Must Go On: The Anthology Leo Sayer
1996 Sounds Orchestral Meet James Bond Sounds Orchestral
1997 Halcyon Days: The A&M Years The Strawbs
1998 JSP London Jazz Sessions, Vol. 2 Various Artists
1998 Ridin' High: The British Sessions 1960-1971 Cleo Laine
1998 Very Best of Grappelli & Menuhin Stephane Grappelli & Menuhin
2000 Instruments of the Dance Orchestra/Olde Englyshe Ted Heath & His Musicke
2001 All Time Top Twelve/Shall We Dance? Ted Heath and His Music
2001 Buddism Roy Budd
2001 Gershwin for Moderns-Rodgers for Moderns Ted Heath & His Music
2002 Heath Vs. Ros: Swing Vs. Latin Ted Heath
2002 Our Kind Of Jazz/Spotlight On Sidemen Ted Heath
2002 Strike Up the Band/Fats Waller Album Ted Heath
2003 Bop in Britain, Vol. 1: The Learning Curve Various Artists
2003 Hits I Missed/Al Jolson Classics Ted Heath
2003 Little Klunk/Showcase Stan Tracey
2003 Pop Hits from the Classics/Great Film Hits Ted Heath
2004 From New Orleans to Chicago/Champion Jack Dupree and His Blues Band Champion Jack Dupree
2004 Menuhin & Grappelli Play... Yehudi Menuhin/StÈphane Grappelli
2004 Pow!/Big Band Spirituals Ted Heath
2004 Swing Revisited Johnny Keating
2004 Swings in Hi-Stereo/My Very Good Friends the Bandlead Ted Heath
2005 Decca Singles and Rarities Ted Heath
2005 In Concert - Beaulieu Jazz Festival/21st Anniversary Ted Heath
2006 Decca Singles and Rarities, Vol. 3 Ted Heath
2006 Taste of Strawbs The Strawbs
2006 Tea Break/Back Again/Jazz from Two Sides Vic Lewis


  • "Then, of course, the battle at the end with Animal; to play opposite Ronnie Verrell--one of my all-time favourite drummers, along with Kenny Clare--was a total gas to me." -Buddy Rich
  • Though sidelined by an auto accident in 1990, Verrell continued to perform until the end of his life.

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