Sandy Nelson was a prominent session drummer in the 50's and 60's and managed
to put some instrumental hits of his own in the top ten.
He was born Sander Nelson in 1938 in Santa Monica, California.
Inspired at the age of seven when he saw Gene Krupa perform, Nelson asked
for a drum set for his next Christmas present.
Unlike most kids who get
a drum set, he stuck with it, and by the time he was in high school,
he was working as a session man with early rock acts.
high school with Jan Berry, Dean Torrence, Phil Spector, and others who went
on to careers in rock-and-roll.
Sandy became a proficient drummer and joined
his first group, Kip Tyler and the Flips. Another member of the group was
future Beach Boy Bruce Johnston, who played piano. Kip Tyler and the Flips
recorded some songs on the Ebb and Challenge labels.
His services as a drummer were in demand. He played drums for Spector on the
Teddy Bears' number one hit To Know Him, Is To Love Him in 1958, and the
following year he sessioned for Gene Vincent on Crazy Times before striking
out on his own. He recorded for the Original Sound label, and his fifth
made it all the way to number four in 1959. It was rather
unusual in that it was an instrumental song featuring Sandy's pounding drums.
Instrumentals did not generally sell very well, but this one certainly did.
Sandy Nelson continued his work as a session drummer on many well known
rock-and-roll songs in the early 60's, appearing on such top ten hits as
Alley-Oop and A Thousand Stars. He signed a recording contract with Imperial
and in 1961 released his second [and last] top ten hit,
Let There Be Drums.
Once again he had scored with an instrumental that featured his driving drum
beat. He had other minor hits in 1962, such as
Drums Are My Beat.
In 1963 Sandy was involved in a vehicular accident and lost part of his leg.
He recovered and returned to performing the following year, and eventually
released Teen Beat '65 before fading away.
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