2006 - Individual Artist
William Robert Leacox was born into a musical family in Shenandoah. His uncle, father, three cousins and brother all played drums. Willie’s mother and sister played various instruments and his brother is a music teacher.
His first professional exposure came through the big bands his father and uncle played with. Willie was learning to drum and walk simultaneously. Throughout grade school, middle school and high school he played in many bands. One grade school band, the Echoes, entered a television talent show in Omaha, Neb. Anchored by his superb drumming, the band won the competition and were invited back for guest appearances on that show.
It was at the Stan Kenton Summer Jazz Camp that received instruction from the staff of the Berkeley School of Music. While earning a BA degree in Music from Washburn University in Topeka Kansas (1970), Willie majored in piano and drummed for various collegiate ensembles. He was now ready for a career in music. Leacox credits his formal training for his later success in the music industry.
1971 brought his move to Southern California where for the first few years Willie was kept busy doing session work, playing with local musicians and doing a fair amount of free lance work. The Southern California scene was a robust industry in the 70’s and he was a busy part of it enabling him to meet David Jolloff, the actor/musician who played Bernie in the show “Room 222.” Jolloff had an apartment near Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell & Dan Peek of America. Through them Willie knew a public audition was to take place to find a permanent drummer. He bought all the available America LPs, transcribed all the drum parts and rehearsed them to perfection.
At the audition Willie was first up. He so impressed the band members and their management that they stopped the midnight audition, sent the other drummers home and hired Willie on the spot. The rest is history.
The first LP he worked on with the band was the smash hit “Holiday.” Willie has fond memories of working on that project and collaborating with former Beatles producer Sir George Martin. Willie continues drumming for American today; doing about 150 shows a year. He has traveled the world, performing in 50 foreign countries. His philosophy is “Life is but a dance to the music of time.”
He relaxes by the pool at his North Hollywood, California home when not touring with the band. Willie’s hobbies include attending jazz concerts, golfing and traveling. He endorses Ludwig drums, Sabian cymbals,Vic Firth sticks, Rhythm Tech percussion, MAY E.A. internal mic systems and GonBops conga drums.
Willie has been referred by the greats in the business as “the best keeper of time without a watch.” Willie Leacox joins a great group of drummers in the Hall of Fame and deservedly so!
Update 5/7/2007, Check out the presentation to Willie by Tom Tourville and John Senn in Fairmont MN on Youtube on the link above! (youtube link and presentation photo provided by Rich Campbell)
Photos Courtesy Of Jane Fauntleroy - Photographer