Osie Johnson & Little Town Flirt ?

Tama CW

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Mar 4, 2018
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One of my Unicorns for years has been trying to figure out who played drums on Del Shannon's Little Town Flirt. It was one of the last songs on my "who played the killer drums on that song" list. I heard this almost daily on the school bus back in 1962-1963. We had the single at home which I played a lot. I had no clue what the song was about or what a "flirt" was. I just knew it was a great song. And despite all the searching tools out there today the drummer on LTF eluded me.....until tonight. I previously just chalked it up to Hal Blaine or one of the other WC drummers.

Imagine my surprise discovering Osie Johnson, who until now I knew nothing about. A very well known and busy as heck live and NY City studio jazz artist who was extremely prolific from 1955-1965. I finally understand the drumming roots behind Del's Little Town Flirt. It's far more than pop or classic rock drumming.....you can feel those jazz, bop and big band roots in there. It never quite felt like WC drums to me. Unfortunately, Osie died young of kidney disease in 1966 at age 43.....born the same year as my father and only a few days earlier. In his drummer bio Osie is considered as one of the most proficient and respected players of his period, yet today....barely remembered. Had he received a full time gig with a famous and innovative band we might all know his name today. In looking through Osie's credits LTF is the only pop credit I see. He is listed by Wiki and other sources as the drummer on Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife." Makes you wonder how he was picked for the "Flirt" gig....and why there weren't others to follow as well? From the opening fill, to the numerous ones that fill up the song, Flirt runs forward like a locomotive. I've always considered it one of the very best examples of 1960's pop drumming.

The Strange Case of Osie Johnson

Osie's credits

More Credits

Two Jims and Zoot

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